Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | October 14, 2009
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Police youth clubs bridge the gap
Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

Constable Nesita Thorpe-Edwards, from the St Catherine South Police Station has the attention of a group of young people during a mentorship programme at the Kingston Eastern Police Division on Elletson Road on Sunday. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

With recent reports of friction between the police and communities across the island, it would seem that the gap between the police and the community is becoming wider and wider each day.

However, coordinator for the police youth clubs (PYC) in the Kingston Eastern division, Corporal Oneil Patterson, says lawmen have been working with various PYCs in some of the most volatile communities to help bridge this gap.

On Sunday, several youngsters from various communities in the division turned out at the Elletson Road Police Station to take part in a leadership-training seminar.

The youths, from the communities of Elletson Road, Rae Town, Franklin Town, Rockfort, Bull Bay, and Harbour View, received useful tips on leadership skills, conflict resolution, and report writing.

Patterson said the police have been working tediously to increase membership in various PYCs across the division, yielding some result.

"A few weeks ago, because of the violence in Rockfort, we had only 10 persons going to the Rockfort Police Youth Club. We went into the community, talked with them and now we have attracted over 50 persons within less than a month. Most of the crimes committed in Jamaica are committed by young people and if we can get the support from them, then it is good," he said.

Patterson added that the police are reaping some benefit as recently the relationship between police and residents in Mountain View has blossomed.

"I am paying a lot of attention to the police youth clubs and I am encouraging them and letting them know that from police in the eastern Kingston community - safety and security are there for them."

President of the national police youth club movement, Clarence Ennis, told The Gleaner that, in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the over 500 police youth clubs across the island, plans are afoot to have them regularised.

"The main aim of a police youth club is to bridge the gap between the police and the youths, so the notion that police youth clubbites had, where they believed they could just grab some friends and start something, we want to take that away and have them regularised," he said.

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