Sunday, Sep 22, 2019
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A matter of trust

Dear Editor,

Once again I seek your indulgence in granting me space in your respected forum to express my views on a matter of grave concern.

First I would like to reaffirm my support for our policemen, but this is not about me. It is about our young men, who have absolutely no trust in the police. Not only the young men, but many not-so-young men and women are not happy with the way the police are executing their duties. Many of them feel as if the police are setting them up to fail.

We are all aware of the problems we have with gangs, but that’s not to say every young person is involved with gangs, and the police should treat everyone differently.

Minister Dames spoke to having the police force undergoing fitness training. One would think that this should have happened during recruitment training. What the minister should be concentrating on is training our police in the ways of dealing with the young people so as to gain their trust. Many of the officers, some of them seniors, are in need of such training. Young men are often the victims of violent crimes, and we need them to have confidence in the police if those crimes are going to be reported and dealt with effectively. The police cannot do their job unless people report crime. But young people are so distrusting of the police many of them would not report a crime for fear of becoming a suspect.

While more police on the streets makes some people feel safer, young people are the exception; they are saying they feel less safe when they see the police on the streets. In some cases they fear they will be stopped and interrogated for just being on the streets.

I reiterate that if police officers are expected to respond to the needs of young people then they should receive training in how to work with them. The police must be able to tell the difference between adult and young people’s perceptions. I see police patrolling the area and I feel safe; young people see the police and they go ‘What did I do?’

I see a van full of police, and I’m curious; young people see a van and they think, ‘We are going to get bullied’.

Minister, a short while back, police officers were in the communities interacting with the residents. What happened? You were on the cusp of gaining the trust of those you are sworn to protect and serve. The police need to be embedded in the communities they serve. They need to increase the amount of positive interaction with the young people and become a part of their lives, rather than just people who stop and search them. It is important that young people trust the police if we are to improve confidence and prevent crimes. It will take work from both the police and young people to improve their relationship. The question is how do we get the young people to trust the police?

 

– Anthony Pratt

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