Police offer assurances to Ivy residents in the wake of recent shootings
A senior police official tonight sought to reassure residents of The Ivy, St Michael, that lawmen would leave no stone unturned in ensuring their safety in the wake of several reports of shootings, stone and bottle throwing in the area over the past four weeks.
At the same time, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (with responsibility for territorial policing) Eucklyn Thompson, who led a 7 p.m. tour of senior officers through the area, called on churches, community groups, political leaders and non-governmental organizations in The Ivy to come together to provide leadership for the younger members of the community.
Speaking to members of the Press on The Ivy Main Road at the start of the walk-through, Thompson said the tour was prompted by the recent upsurge in gun-related issues.
“We are here because the force is concerned about the safety of communities in Barbados . . . and it is felt that we should come and have a chat with the people within the community to reassure them that we are here to help them in any area we can and bring tranquility to the area.
“We have come at a point in time where activities mainly unfold. Our information is that activities are mainly held in the evening; so we came around this time of the day, so that the people could see us and talk with us, so that we can see our way forward in relation to the challenges they have.
“So far, we have concluded that we have achieved much by adopting this type of strategy. When we walk through the districts, we are able to speak to people; and speaking to people helps. It helps people to come out of their houses and talk to us and we can speak to them.”
However, he acknowledged that some residents might be reluctant to share information on account of a fear that if they spoke out, they might be victimized; but he said the force was trying to eliminate that fear.
“Having said that, there must be some leadership within the community too. The leadership must help to play a role in bringing that peace to the community. For instance, I have no doubt there must be churches within the community, there must be community leaders and even those people who are involved in the political arena. We have a responsibility as Barbadians to ensure that our communities are safe,” Thompson contended.
Also addressing the issue, Acting Assistant Commissioner (with responsibility for crime investigation) Erwin Boyce said: “The concern is more about those crimes involving firearms. We have had couple reports dealing with firearm related crimes and those are under investigation.
“Generally speaking, the other types of crimes are not as many as people are led to believe. What we are concerned about too is the fear of crime arising from shooting, and the way it has been reported has created some anxiety among the residents.”
During the tour, a pregnant resident, who did not want to give her name, told the senior cops that almost every night and early mornings stones and bottles are being thrown at houses, and gunshots ring out.
She said: “Recently shots were fired at my house and they broke the glass. When I woke up in the morning the spent shells were still in my garden. No one repaired my window and I had to underwrite the cost. I have young children in the house, and I fear for their safety.”
While interacting with some of the older residents during the hour-long tour, Thompson encouraged them to give their children sound spiritual training so that they would not engage in negative behaviours.
When asked by some concerned residents if a police outpost would be located in the area, Thompson said even though it had been considered, no definitive plans had been finalized.
The upsurge in gunplay in The Ivy comes quickly on the heels of concerns raised by the current MP for St Michael East Trevor Prescod, as well as the former parliamentary representative for St Michael South-East Hamilton Lashley.
In an interview earlier this week, Prescod, who passed through The Ivy tonight during the police tour, warned that the jobless situation was a factor, while, in a separate interview today, Lashley reiterated an earlier warning that if corrective measures were not put in place, Barbados could witness an upsurge in violence in the dispossessed districts across the country.