Cops promise Trainline residents: Help is coming

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Two houses and a car burnt in Trainline, St Augustine. That troubled community has seen at least six murders so far this year. Trainline on Sunday night. FILE PHOTO –

Police in the Northern Division say the seriousness of continued violence in Trainline Village, St Augustine, and nearby areas has not been lost on them, as they have formulated strategies to prevent further bloodshed while empowering the community.

For the year so far six Trainline Village residents have been murdered.

In January 16-year-old Darshan Ramnauth and Geno Shah were killed during a drive-by shooting.

In March 26-year-old Aneesa Ramkisson was gunned down after she reportedly refused to pay a “tax” to criminals in the area.

On April 5, Daniel Riley, 21, was shot and killed at his Freeman Road home and his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend was wounded.

On April 26, Dillon Joseph, who lived in Trainline Village, was also shot and killed while working at his watermelon stall on the Caroni Savannah Road.

CLEAN THROUGH: A stray bullet that went clean through this steel gate near to where a man was shot dead at a wake last week in Trainline, St Augustine. FILE PHOTO –

Last Wednesday night 26-year-old Kris Pooran was killed by gunmen as he walked past the wake for Joseph.

Police sources told Newsday on Monday they were taking the continued violence seriously and had finalised plans on how to address the violence while building the community.

One officer said the police used a tiered system to categorise which neighbourhoods were in most need of assistance, adding that Trainline Village was listed as a troubled or “top -priority” community for intervention.

This intervention, he said, would include a combination of crime-suppression activities and community engagement to prevent the escalation of petty disputes to violence.

“We evaluated what’s going on in this community and we have decided on going through with a sustained presence in this area.

“Our main goal, when we leave Freeman Road and Trainline Village, whenever that may be, is to ensure the community operates and functions like a normal community, with no upticks in violence and killing.

“One of our objectives is to set up a strong community network, because we saw in other communities where there is a strong community group, there are low rates of crimes.”

In addition to restoring trust in the police, the officer said there were also plans to introduce a community justice clinic, where residents could seek legal advice from the police who could also mediate disputes.

In terms of preventing more murders, the officer said police would be assigned to take up position in the community as a “static” or stationary patrol. He said this would work in tandem with foot patrols so residents could develop a rapport with police.

While he said the police were prepared to make full use of different initiatives, he also called on community leaders and other figures to volunteer their time and effort to guide residents.

“We want to invite everybody, from the counsellors to the leaders from the churches, the mandirs, the mosques, to come out and also help us. We want volunteers from every sphere and sector to come out and counsel the people in this community.

“If we want to take back this community then everybody has to get involved.”

Contacted for comment, one resident said she was cautiously optimistic the police would succeed, and hoped a sustained police presence would ease the fears in the neighbourhood.

She said for now an unofficial curfew was still being observed, with many residents choosing not to venture outdoors after midday.

“We living like we are in jail. This isn’t freedom.

“So whatever plan they (the police) have, we are more than welcoming it.

“My only hope is they don’t do it for two weeks, get bored and leave.”

Police from the Homicide Bureau of Investigations Region II and Region III are working together to solve the murders of Trainline Village residents.

One officer said the investigations were challenging, as some of the murders may have been committed by people well known to the victims and their families.