The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) said that there needs to be a holistic approach to policing and that citizens should work with the police to address the country’s crime problem.
Jonelle Llewellyn, research associate at the VPA emphasized that there are practical ways to foster safe spaces and bring about meaningful engagements. She further noted that the shifting of responsibility and blame must cease as the ills being experienced are integrated.
She made reference to the case study of Boston in the United States of America, which she said had high homicide rates but the Boston Public Health Commission worked collectively with the police department among other agencies to identify sustained solutions to prevent violence.
“There was a true buy-in with community policing and it is the communities that became the primary partner in achieving reduced homicide rates and steadily declining rates of violence related incidents,” she said.
Miss Llewellyn further explained that what also set Boston apart is the adoption of trauma-informed approaches in effective service delivery. A network of eight community health centres was developed with specialized trained staff that conducted activities in neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence.
“The aim was to provide immediate trauma response and recovery services to affected residents and facilitate prevention-focused activities through their health centres,” she said.
Results from a 2014 evaluation found that a dollar invested in Boston’s Partners Advancing Communities Together (PACT) programme expected to gain a savings of nearly US$7.40 in crime-related cost savings. Similar to VPA’s Cost of Care Study, which noted that Jamaica will save once investments are made in efficient and effective public service delivery.
Turning to the matter on how children are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miss Llewellyn said stakeholders have to be strategic forward thinkers in planning for child development.
“Private sector strengths are to be applauded with regards to mobilizing resources for our youth, but there is still a gap with meeting specific needs of the ones at risk, such as the ability to adopt to the increasing technological demands,” she said.
She also made reference to the VPA’s initiatives where some 220 at risk or vulnerable families in 22 communities in St James, Kingston and Falmouth benefited from care packages consisting of basic food items, reading books and worksheets for children attached to the Child Resiliency Programme.
In addition, the VPA also handed over care packages to parents at the Chatsworth Primary and Infant School in Shaw Castle, Maroon Town in St. James. The care packages included basic food items and toiletries.