Do you feel safe in your community? Of course it depends on where you live, but it’s not strange to hear rural residents say that they won’t leave their communities to go into Kingston.
Some people swear that they won’t live in a community if it is not gated, while others will say they feel safest within the borders of their community regardless of its notoriety.
The rise in serious crime has made life in some areas of Jamaica very uncertain – even areas that were traditionally untouched by serious crime.
Taking on the challenge of crime as a community is the best response, but it is also the most challenging.
Creating a Safer Neighborhood
Having a really secure neighborhood involves much more than physical forces to protect you. It requires that equal opportunities for health, education and jobs for all citizens is available. But moreso it involves members of the community working with, and looking out for each other as still seen in a number of rural communities today.
1. Establish a Community-Based Organization
Whether formal or informal, the first step towards a safer community is having an active and effective Community-Based Organisation (CBO) such as a Citizens’ Association or even Neighborhood Watch Group; without one, your community is extremely vulnerable to crime. Truth is, ‘Tief nuh love loud noise’, and nothing is a better deterrent than a few “mongrels” and a united neighborhood.
For tips on getting started, visit our previous blogs:
2. Know Your Neighbors
Do you know who lives next door? Do you actively try to get to know the people in your community or do you ‘hol yuh head straight’ when you pass by?
Become familiar with the faces in your community so that strangers become easily identifiable. Events such as a sports day, games night or a cook-out is a great way to meet the people living in your community.
Building safer communities may also means exploring educational and economic opportunities for the idle youths and unemployed adults that may be in your community. Would a resource center that offers students help with homework, skills training or Violence Prevention and Dispute Resolution programs for adults, be helpful to at-risk persons in the community? Could that help them in some way to stay out of trouble?
3. Partner With the Police
One of the great things about CBOs such as Citizens’ Associations is that as an organisation, you generally get a better response from institutions than a single resident might – and the police is one institution that is important to have on speed-dial.
Invite the police to your meetings and events and build a relationship with the officers that serve your community. Police youths clubs build trust as well as serve the youths of the community. Use these and other opportunities to develop safety plans and crime management strategies together with the police that may be important in case of emergency.
Connect to the Jamaica Constabulary Force
4. Make Your Environment Safe
Do not let broken streetlights, bush overgrowth, bad roads or debris such as old cars, create hiding spots for criminals. If you have any one or more of these issues and it is beyond what you as a community can correct by yourselves, then call your local parish council or elected representative to help you get it done.
5. Help and Support
The Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), Social Development Commission, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, NGOs and private organizations offer guidance and financial help to CBOs for projects aimed at improving neighborhood security.
By working together we can help to build a safer Jamaica from the ground up.
Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner