- At their wits’ end
The escalating crime problem in Westmoreland, where more than a hundred persons have been killed since the start of the year, and regular flare-ups of violence by feuding gangs in several communities, have the authorities there at their wits’ end, as no clear solution is in sight.
That’s coming from Hartley Perrin, Custos Rotulorum of Westmoreland, in response to last Sunday’s invasion of the volatile community of Russia by men armed with high-powered weapons, who fired indiscriminately in the area, resulting in one man being shot and wounded.
The man, who was wanted by the police, was subsequently taken into custody.
Custos Perrin says the communities of Russia, Dalling Street, Dexta, Seaton Crescent and Shaolin, are the areas where rivalling factions have been trading barbs in more recent months, leaving residents on edge.
“It is clear that we are at our wits’ end with respect of how we are going to deal with the crisis that confronts us. The police do not seem to have the answer – they say they need more resources, which may be true. The police would have to blanket the areas all the time, and that is not ever going to be possible,” explains Custos Perrin.
He indicated that the overabundance of ill-gotten cash was fueling the violent clashes among the factions over what he said were trivial matters, including who has more money to spend in wanton abandon.
“Much of the war has to do with the fact that some of the youngsters have too much money – that is ill-gotten wealth gained from scamming. They get the money and they try to outdo each other in spending and it causes conflicts. One may burn some money or buy certain cases of liquor and that results in shooting. It is surprising to know that men are killing each other over even a dumpling and some of these youngsters are related, but they do not seem to care about the fact that they are blood-related,” he explained.
Sunday’s shooting prompted the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) to stage a peace march in Russia on Thursday, as one of several measures which the group said it would be implementing in 10 communities in Westmoreland, which have been plagued by violent clashes in recent months.
However, Custos Perrin, who was also a part of the peace march, says the social scientists must be meticulous in their assessment of the communities that they will be working in to get to the real root of the problem, as in many instances, they are missing the mark.
“We are misinterpreting what is happening in these communities – like a doctor, we look at the symptoms, draw the wrong diagnosis, and therefore apply the wrong treatment. This is where the social scientists and persons like those really need to go in and try to diagnose what are the real problems and see how best they can be resolved,” he said.
Lansford Salmon, Superintendent of Police in charge of Westmoreland, said from time to time, violence triggered by warring factions flare-up the affected communities, citing that on Sunday, the man who got shot was believed to have been shot by one of his cronies.
“What we are having is conflicts between warring gangs, which is on and off. Sunday’s act causes serious concern among the citizens, but we are dealing with it.”