Black Immigrant Daily News
Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher. File photo/Sureash Cholai
On Thursday Police Commissioner Erla Christopher was again absent from an event to which she was invited, this time because she was at a meeting on Carnival-related issues.
On Wednesday a parliamentary joint select committee (JSC) was informed that matters of “urgent national security” caused her to stay away from its meeting. Christopher had earlier confirmed her attendance, but on Tuesday said she was unable to attend.
Representing her at the JSC were DCP Curt Simon (Intelligence and Investigations), ACP Criminal Division Winston Maharaj and Snr Supt Kerwin Francis (in charge of the Northern Division).
Representing her on Thursday at Rose Hill Primary School, Laventille was head of the Gender Based Violence Unit (GBVU) Supt Clair Guy-Alleyne.
In November last year, Christopher, then acting Deputy Commissioner of Police, was one of the members of the police executive to visit the primary school, after students were recorded ducking for cover when gunmen from Argyle Street, Gonzales and Richardson Lane, Laventille were shooting at each other.
Thursday’s event was part of the Victim and Witness Support Unit outreach “Who is Writing your Story?” with the theme “From Fear to Freedom.”
Asked about the commissioner’s absence, Guy-Alleyne said: “Yes, the Commissioner of Police was unavoidably absent due to another meeting that she had to host this morning. You know, she’s a very important person at this time when it comes to national issues relative to security.
“We have Carnival, which is going to be the mother of (all) Carnivals, and we need within the TTPS to put all measures and ensure that we have a very safe Carnival. So now is a very important time for the Commissioner of Police. “
The programme launched on Thursday will target children nine-14, said manager of the Victim and Witness Support Unit Aisha Price-Corbie. She said the programme was created specifically for Rose Hill Primary Schoo,l building on a similar, previous programme.
“This is actually the third instalment of our ‘Who’s Writing our Story?’ We are now targeting schools with it. Before we would have had that group of different schools and children coming in one place, but we are now taking it to schools.”
She added that other schools were interested in the initiative, which will be rolled out eventually. Previously the programme, started in 2020, targeted only males between 14 and 17 from schools in the East Port of Spain and Morvant areas.
“So far we have had significant traction with the children, and in terms of them being more attentive and applying themselves to the school content. But more so, what we notice with these, it provides a space for them to feel that safety – a number of them have very traumatic experiences that they go through in their lives currently, or they may have gone through before.”
She described the programme as “a space where persons can actually share and report certain instances, unfortunately of crime, that children are experiencing, different abuses they have been experiencing. So those are the areas we’re hoping to have significant traction in dealing with the trauma that the children are going through while in school.”
During her speech Price-Corbie said the programme will focus on mentoring the children with a “five C” model of competence, character, confidence, connection and compassion. The children will also be exposed to philanthropy through volunteering and partnerships. The most significant phase, she said, was parental empowerment, where parents will be taught resilience-building skills through workshops for the ten months of the programme.
“The objectives of this programme are: to provide positive alternatives to criminal activities; educate participants on push and pull factors of criminal activity; equip participants with healthy coping mechanisms; promote and improve parent-child relationships; provide participants with effective communication skills and relationship-building; provide increased awareness of emotional intelligence; and to improve the participants’ understanding of financial planning.”
Guy-Alleyne added that protecting children was everyone’s business and everyone should do their part to protect children. She said it is more cost-effective to invest in children before they are “destroyed and then you have to be dealing with the aftermath of that.”
Also at the function were Snr Supt Roger Alexander and MP for the area Keith Scotland. Both men encouraged the children to use education, not just classroom teachings but life lessons to assist them in achieving their goals.
The children were also entertained by Jaron Nurse and Nesta “Sekon Sta” Boxhill. Both men reminded the children to believe in themselves, listen to their parents, trust in God and stay focused on their life goals.