Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
SUPERINTENDENT CAROL McKenzie, the commanding officer for the Westmoreland Police Division, has taken issue with the attitude of persons who are seeking to protect criminally inclined family members, intimating that they are part of the crime problem in the parish.
"The crime happening in Westmoreland is not being committed by outsiders, but by your sons and daughters," said McKenzie. "There is a parenting lapse in the parish ... . They (the criminals) are recruiting juveniles, 16 and 17 years, to commit crimes ... they are not recruiting grown men and women like you and I."
McKenzie, who was speaking during last Thursday's sitting of the Westmoreland Parish Council, also spoke to the difficulty of apprehending criminals, noting that they are using isolated areas, which are difficult to access, for their hideouts.
"It is usually not terrain that is visible from the air or that is visible parallel to the ground," noted McKenzie. "It is on top of the mountain sides ... . It involves going up hillsides ... going down some valleys and going up again."
McKenzie said families and other stakeholders must join in the campaign to battle lawlessness.
Get Up and Speak Out
"It is time now that we get up and speak out, and stop believing that it is the police alone who are responsible for fighting crime," said the resolute McKenzie. "Councillors have great influence in communities as they have an advantage over law enforcement ... . The people know them and the people trust them."
Frustrated by the level of criminality in Westmoreland, Mayor Bertel Moore last month urged the police to "shoot first" and then ask questions when confronted by criminals. The statement created quite a firestorm and condemnation from various quarters, including the police.
After initially denying making the statement, Moore subsequently changed his tune when he was confronted with a video recording of him telling the police to "shoot first".
"... I did not remember the last part of the statement," the mayor said in explaining his earlier denial. "When I listened to the tape, I said I agree that I actually would have said that."