PMI Begins Violence Interruption in St. Catherine North
A few weeks after the minister of national security announced that Peace Management Initiative (PMI) interventions would form part of his crime-fighting strategy, the entity has hit the ground running and has extended its violence-interruption work to St Catherine North.
Damian Hutchinson, executive director of the PMI, has indicated that violence interrupters have been trained and deployed in the parish.
"We have completed training of persons we want to work on the ground in these communities and so we are in the very first phase of sensitising the community and developing the specific plans of action for these communities. So we are well under way in St Catherine right now," he said.
Hutchinson noted that the PMI has improved its capacity and will be using its experience in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) to treat with violence in St Catherine North communities.
"The PMI has been in operation since 2002 and we have successfully managed to create a network of peacekeepers across the Kingston Metropolitan Area. This has contributed to this counterculture of peace-building that has effectively treated with the culture of violence that has entrenched itself in many of these communities. Now that the homicide rate has dropped in the KMA, we are ready to branch out to do work in other areas ... such as St Catherine North that require the sort of intervention and effective work we have done in many of the KMA communities," he said.
According to Hutchinson: "We have the capacity, because as we work, we build capacity of persons. Many of the persons from our team are persons who would have been engaged in many of these vulnerable communities in Kingston, and we have empowered them and trained them and deployed them in St Catherine North as part of spreading this new culture of peace-building."
RESIDENTS HAVEROLE TO PLAY
Hutchinson also disclosed that the violence interrupters who have been deployed in St Catherine North are persons from the constituency who have been trained to work in their communities.
"The PMI is not a do-it-yourself organisation. The residents in the community need to take responsibility for their own community," he said.
He went on to outline some of the violence interruption strategies that the PMI employs.
"Our programmes are varied, and it depends on the starting point, because when we go into St Catherine North, many of these areas are areas we have not worked in before, and so there are different starting points in different communities. So in some communities, we start with peace-building; in others plagued by conflict, the first step is to stabilise those areas by getting those influential persons involved in the conflict to come together and come to some sort of understanding," he explained.
Another strategy is building and supporting community organisations in areas which may not be plagued by violence currently but have a reputation for violence. These organisations, he said, are used to maintain communication and good relations in the community.