WINDSOR, Clarendon:THE IMPORTANCE of farmers and other community members partnering with the police was highlighted as a key step to curbing rural crimes, including the scourge of praedial larceny, during Monday's launch of the Windsor Farmers' Watch in Clarendon.
Farmers' Watch, the first of which was launched in Rock River in the parish last May, is fashioned off the principle of like-minded people in a community working to address a common problem or problems - in this case, all rural crimes. Essential to this is a good working relationship between local police and community members, who must step up their level of awareness and responsibility. This includes reporting suspicious activity and also doing essential things like closing and locking front doors and educating children and domestic workers about safety precautions.
However, for maximum effect, this must be done in partnership with the police, a point made by Corporal Dean Cover of the Rock River Police Station and reinforced by Senior Superintendent of Police Michael Bailey during the launch.
Cover, who reported that his community had seen an 80 per cent decline in praedial larceny since inception of the programme, urged others to come on board by forming Farmers' Watch groups, but he warned that effectiveness was linked to cooperation with the police.
NO VIGILANTE JUSTICE
He issued this appeal: "We are not in support of vigilante justice. If you know of or see (crimes), please inform the police. Let the police do what they have to do, what they are trained for, please, because we don't want lives to be lost innocently. I am not saying that you can't arrest (detain) the person, but do so without abusing them, I implore you."
Meanwhile, Reginald Grant, praedial larceny prevention coordinator, explained that Farmers' Watch speaks to all rural crimes and is designed, among other things, to foster good relationships between neighbours and with the local police - united in the common commitment to prevent/reduce the incidence of theft and vandalism of property.
Key to this, he explained, is adherence to use of the receipt-book system, which dictates that receipts must be issued for all agricultural crops and livestock sold. He warned that the police force would be stepping up its efforts to crack down on praedial larceny, and those operating outside of the law would find themselves in trouble.
Most persons reacted with surprise and disbelief when the retired assistance commissioner of police told them the fine for selling agricultural produce without a receipt is $250,000.
"A lie!" one woman responded when a friend explained. "Fi you owna sitten?"
Explaining that it would not be business as usual, Grant went on to also warn those buying farm produce to be also wary. "If you are not getting a receipt from the seller, don't buy it because the produce could be stolen."