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Dookeran: Cops in schools to curb violence

Friday, March 21, 2014

In the wake of a growing number of incidents of school violence, police officers will be deployed at schools, says acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran. Speaking at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Dookeran said the issue of school violence was discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and members met with acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. He said police officers would be deployed at schools during their opening hours to act as a deterrent.

In addition, he said, the Ministry of Education Value Education Programme would be expedited and individual schools must also take responsibility for the situation. Over the last few days, there has been reports of students charged for fighting in schools and suspended. But criminologist Dana Seetahal, SC, disagreed that police in schools was the best option. She said if that was the case then other areas of society would also want police presence and that would ultimately deter the police from carrying out its duties. “And then how long can you put a police presence in schools? That can’t be a permanent answer to anything,” Seetahal added.

She recommended there be an expansion of the Military-led Academic Training Programme (Milat) which was a voluntary programme and could only accommodate some 100 participants at a time. National Security Minister Gary Griffith agreed that the problem of school violence was not only a law enforcement issue but also one which involved the entire society. In an interview yesterday Griffith said the root cause of the problem must be ascertained. “This is as an important matter as policing and law enforcement and it is a social matter as it requires counselling to get to the root cause of the problem,” Griffith said. He added that the National Security Ministry would also be collaborating with various ministries to properly tackle the problem.