Residents Of "Crime-Ridden" Neighborhoods Are Victims Too
The so called crime ridden areas were gazetted last week - which gives police powers to search any and all houses in the area without the need for a warrant, while restricting movement in and out of these areas.
All five areas are within Lake Independence and Pickstock - and today police took the media along on a raid of one gang neighborhood - where Monica Bodden found out, even the residents are victims.
Here's her story:
Monica Bodden Reporting
It started with an early morning briefing inside the military compound at Militia Hall.
Officers are provided with the information of the specific area they will be conducting searches.
Then it was off into their assigned police mobiles where one behind the other they moved in a line, making their way down Mahogany Street and into the PIV area .
PIV - is the abbreviation for "Peace in the Village" - but there was no peace in that village at 5am this morning - when the entire neighborhood was awakened by the banging of police officers at their doors.
30 officers were dispatched in the 'crime ridden' area. - these orange cones on the streets where used to cordon off the territory.
A police check point was placed on Nargusta Street - where in-depth searches were done on vehicles travelling in and out of the area.
Bicycle riders were stopped and properly pat down for illegal substances or weapons.
And even a K-9 operation was conducted where the dogs named Gas and Boscoo combed the entire neighborhood - sniffing through high bushes in empty lots and inside the yards of residents.
But after a 2 hour operation, police turned up empty-handed. No one was detained nor arrested this morning and nothing illegal was found in the area.
ACP Alden Dawson - Officer Commanding CIB
"We have this ongoing operation over the city, and this morning, our target area was the PIV area, as you people well know it to be. We have been in there with about 30 officers, including the BDF soldiers. We did a 2-hour operation, roughly. And to my mind, without detaining anyone, or making no arrests, we were successful."
"Are you able to say seizure, confiscations, or finds were made?"
ACP Alden Dawson
"No, this morning, we didn't make any seizures or confiscation. Neither was anybody detained."
ACP Dawson spoke about the reduction of street crimes and gang activities since this new operation took effect on November second.
ACP Alden Dawson
"Since the operation started, we have noticed a reduction in the street crime, as well as the gang activity. I don't think that there is anything to be done swiftly."
"Sir, are you able to say if something like this has a - what sort of effect does it have in terms of, is it meant to make seizures, or is it meant to keep the community on guard knowing that the police could show up with massive force at any time, and you can't be running any criminal operation in here?"
ACP Alden Dawson
"Well, our intention, Jules, is to keep the crime situation down, and take every last illegal weapon and drugs off the street."
And while the police are just doing their job, many law abiding citizens who have the misfortune to live in those Crime Ridden Zones - are subjected to random searches - which while they are lawful, seems to trespass upon the constitutional rights of a citizen.
"I was already up; only my kids and my wife were in bed. I was doing a little business, which I do to make things for school. So, that's what I was doing."
"And when they came in, how was their approach?"
"Well, these officers weren't bad, you know. These ones are a lot better than the GSU. I'm telling you because the GSU wouldn't ask any questions. They would have kicked open the doors, and handcuff you instantly, because that's how they roll. You have to take what they give you and don't talk, because they'll beat you. That's one thing. If you talk, you'll get beating."
"But your 2 children, they were sleeping right?"
"Yes, Ma'am, the officers woke them up. They got up when the police wanted to search the rooms."
"How old are your children?"
"One is 7 years-old, and one is 22 months."
For this one area resident, it is the 4th time in less than 2 weeks his home has been searched by police.
It has become frustrating for his family- And after living at their home for 34 years - they are moving out to a 'Non crime ridden area' for some peace of mind.
"I have to move because I can't handle it. I have to move out of my own house."
"How long have you lived here for?"
"I am 34 year-old, ma'am. That's how long."
"All your life."
"And you're planning to move out of your house?"
"I have to because I won't have any peace."
"Sir, have there been any other searches her before, other than when this initiative started?"
"No, it's been a few years. No police came and search here until this initiative. It's been the 4th time since they started."
"What are your children's reactions?"
"Daddy, what are they doing here? I have to tell them that they are looking for guns and drugs."
The operation began at 5am and ended at approximately 7am - where the troops returned to base.