Review by Kevin Baldeosingh
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Duncan Street police post up and running
Less than 24 hours after the police post at Duncan Street, Port-of -Spain, opened for business, police found a nine-millimetre gun at Mango Rose. Around 10.30 am yesterday, they received a report that shots had been fired in the area and when they arrived, they saw several men with guns running away. The police then spotted the gun at the side of one of the nine-storey apartment buildings. The post was formally opened on October 17, 2013 in an area of east Port-of-Spain which has been dubbed a “hot spot” and “war zone.”
The $2 million post is a project of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and is manned by members of the CCTV Response Unit, the Inter Agency Task Force and Anti-Kidnapping Unit. It houses a holding bay, homework and mediation centres and, according to police, “a small dormitory for numerous officers.” The building is surrounded by surveillance cameras which monitor the compound, Duncan Street and the surrounding area.
When a T&T Guardian team visited it, officers said they had received 30 reports in their first day on Monday. Head of the IATF, senior supt Carlton Alleyne and acting assistant supt Wayne Mohammed were visiting at the time. Alleyne said the police hoped residents would continue to work with them to stop the surge of crime in the area.
“We will have mediation and homework centres which will be used in the interest of the community. We will be acquiring ten more computers to involve children in activities and teach young people life skills,” he said. Alleyne said members of the Hearts and Minds Programme would be working with the police to provide mediation for residents. “We are looking for good things and we cannot do it on our own. We have to do it together and the Police Service and residents will benefit.
“We will have different mediators to assist and refer them and be in constant conversation with them. It is an ideal place where it is safe for them to come,” he added.
Residents: We need more posts
Jennifer Jones, a resident, said several more police posts were needed in the community. “Yes, it is a good thing. They need to open ten more for each block,” she said. Brian St Louis, another resident, had mixed feelings. “It is a good initiative,” he said, but added: “The police have to be more diligent on the job. They does be around and not around, if you know what I mean.
“Some shots will be fired and 20 minutes later (making police siren noises). It will calm them down a little bit but they (police) have to be more persistent and you won’t hear no gunshots.” A resident from St Paul’s Street said: “We need one up there by the Quarry and Terrace. Right now is satan patrolling.”
Police: New post lacking
Police Social and Welfare Association president Insp Anand Ramesar said there were issues that needed to be addressed at the post. He said: “I would give them 100 marks for aesthetic presentation of the facility. “They did not take into consideration the needs and welfare and safety of police officers and issues, such as having the dormitory facilities. “The fire escape is not the best. The entry and exit facilities are not suitable in a police environment.”
Ramesar said a list of safety issues surrounding the structure of the building had been presented to the association. “While the association understands there was some effort to treat some of the issues, it is a clear communication to the association that it has not been to the extent that members feel comfortable, safe and their welfare has been a consideration in their occupation and use of that building,” he said.
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