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Clarendon SOS | ‘My lock-up is not a five-star hotel’ - Clarendon police chief slams parents for ‘dumping criminals on society’

Published:Sunday | June 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson - Staff Reporter
Head of the Clarendon Police Division, Senior Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron Powell.

A slew of social challenges are being blamed for a breakdown of order in Clarendon, and according to many in the central parish, chief among them is poor parenting, which gives rise to criminal “monsters”.

Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron Powell, commander of the Clarendon Police Division, told The Sunday Gleaner last week that the parish suffers heavily from parents who give covert and even overt support for their children’s criminal activity.

“Parenting in Clarendon is a detriment. It is sad. And the first words on the lips of every citizen are, ‘What are the police doing?’ But what about the parents who are giving birth and fathering these children who become criminals? They are dumping criminals on the society … and nobody mentions the poor parenting,” argued the superintendent.

Many of the youngsters in Clarendon are initiated into gang activity from an early age, said Cameron Powell. Some parents, however, have become part of community-based police initiatives aimed at curbing misbehaviour among at-risk children, but the majority turn a blind eye to wayward conduct, she added.

“I hear par-ents come here sometimes when their sons are charged for murders and shootings, and robbery with aggravation, talking about meals that their children are getting at lock-ups,” said Cameron Powell.

“I will tell the entire Clarendon, my lock-up is not a five-star hotel. There is no Burger King, no KFC there. So stay out of my lock-up. It’s not a fast-food place,” she declared.

“These are the only times you see some of the parents coming to vent and fight for meals, and talk about what they want their sons to wear, shorts and brands in my lock-ups. But they don’t look at and seek proper management for the young one,” she stressed, adding that it is troubled youngsters who have evolved into the hardened gangsters who now plague the central Jamaica parish.

Decline in murders

Clarendon has this year seen a 15 per cent decline in murders to 54, down from 64 in 2018, over the comparative period of January to June 1. Shootings, however, have rocketed by 46 per cent, up from 32 to 47, over the corresponding period.

Investigators have linked the incidents to gang activities that have spilled over into May Pen from conflicts that have their genesis in more than a dozen informal communities on the fringes of the Clarendon capital.

The most bizarre attack was a brazen robbery and shoot-out two Sundays ago by heavily armed thugs that left many fearful of commuting in the capital. The police are investigating three persons believed to have been involved in that shooting.

Mayor of May Pen, Winston Maragh, said that while there is need to rehabilitate informal settlements clustering the capital and ensure critical infrastructure such as potable water and timely garbage collection, the role of parenting must not be discounted.

“Informal settlements, yes, we have a couple of them that need to be upgraded. But then we also need [proper] parenting, because if the parents are not in charge of their children, then they are going to grow in a specific manner that is against what society wants,” he said. “Our parents also need training in parenting.

“I remember when I was young, living in Mitchell Town, people used to quarrel over fences … but [now] we don’t bother with that again. The first thing we think about is to pick up a gun and get rid of you because you diss me,” he said.