Seeking alternative methods in the battle against crime, the ‘D’ Division- West Demerara- East Bank Essequibo section of the police force, has been vigorously exploring and implementing partnerships with faith-based groups as part of its strategic plan to control crime in the region.
An active collaborative venture between the police and faith-based organisations via the Cops and Faith Network has resulted in hundreds of school dropouts and youths being given a second chance to pursue life skills and academic studies.
At the Leonora Technical and Vocational Training Centre, students are exposed to various fields of technical and vocational study. An introductory crash course was introduced through the efforts of Divisional Commander Stephen Mansell during the August holidays. Upon completion of that course, students are automatically qualified to pursue higher education at the institution.
No formal qualification is required for admission to the programmes and students are allowed the opportunity to pursue studies of their choice.
Mansell has created a network with the faith-based leaders within the region where help is garnered to bring further insight into the needs of the community in which they reside. Many of the faith based leaders also offer voluntary service upon request of the police.
Following a recent meeting with faith-based leaders and residents on the West Bank Demerara (WBD), the commander initiated several projects to benefit that area.
An abandoned play field at Nismes is currently being restored. Efforts in the area resulted in the field being ploughed and cleared of bushes. However, more ploughing is still required and plans are afoot to fence the ground using zinc sheets, while another ramp will be erected on the field.
A building to facilitate technical and vocational skills training is also being rehabilitated.
Mansell is targeting the youths on the streets and school dropouts. He believes if at-risk youths can be empowered academically and are qualified to obtain jobs, it will significantly decrease the crime rate.
The La Grange, Bagotville and Nismes (LBN) Youth Empowerment Programme was formed in September and is managed by several persons from the communities.
The group manages the finances and project works in the communities on the West Bank Demerara. According to the Vice-Chairman of the LBN Youth Empowerment Programme Marlon Ageda, the entity is self-sufficient and most of the service offered to the community is as a result of voluntary efforts from community members themselves.
Ageda said the playfield was restored by approximately fifteen young men from the area.
Ageda believes the venture was an excellent one for the community and will be of benefit to more than 300 youths, many of whom are school dropouts. In addition, Ageda said the programmes will also serve as a means of crime prevention.
A fund raising barbeque is planned and the event is expected to garner in excess of $400,000, he added.
Meanwhile, Pastor Derek Anderson, Chairman of the LBN Youth Empowerment Programme, also lauded the efforts of the police force in collaborating with the community and the faith based organisations in the fight against crime.
Anderson said since the implementation of the Cops and Faith Network, several persons can testify of the positive impact it has been having in the community. Many persons were referred to the faith-based organisations for counselling by the police force and this has been very successful, Anderson added.
Some of the major cases he mentioned are suicide and depression.
He recounted a case where a secondary school child was saved after he jumped out of a boat whilst crossing the Demerara River in an attempt to end his life.
After undergoing counselling, Anderson said, he later discovered the rescued child was a top performer at his school and after receiving encouragement, that child, subsequently remained in school and is pursuing his education.