Cops tell Trainline, St Augustine community: We’re here for you

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police during their walkabout in the troubled Trainline, St Augustine community. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS

While the relatives of murder victims prepare to leave Trainline Village, St Augustine, over fears of crime, Northern Division ACP Wayne Mystar says the police are still in control as he promised a “strong” police presence to prevent further bloodshed.

For the year thus 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 Ramkissoon 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 Caroni Savannah Road.

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

Speaking with reporters after a community confidence walk through Trainline Village on Wednesday, Mystar said while a temporary police post will not be constructed, “static” or stationary patrols will be implemented at different points in the community.

Trainline village is accessible from Freeman Road, which is south of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

Most residents earn a living from growing produce or rearing livestock.

The neighbourhood can be accessed via several narrow dirt tracks which connect clusters of houses and sheds to Freeman Road through fields of high grass.

Mystar said he saw firsthand the challenges of securing the community from criminals given the different points of entry but was confident the stationary patrols and foot patrols would restore order to Trainline Village.

“I don’t want to say we will be living inside here, but we will definitely be spending a lot of time in the community.

“Whether it takes us two weeks, three weeks or a month, we’ll be spending some time to normalise this community.

“What we want to do is to empower the neighbourhood.

“There will be a static patrol that will be there every single day.

“We will be mandating our community police officers, to have a foot patrol presence.

“It is going to happen consistently until it reaches a point where the community is back to normal.”

ARRESTED: A suspect who was wanted for several months, is taken away after being arrested on Wednesday as he literally walked in on officers who were on a walkabout in Trainline, St Augustine. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS –

Mystar said while the police were prepared to maintain order and protect citizens, he maintained it was a shared responsibility as he called on residents to partner with officers in taking a stand against criminals.

He said anti-crime operations in Trainline Village would also be supported with the establishment of a Police Youth Club and stronger community relations through neighbourhood watch groups.

“Because of our resources, it’s impossible to be in every single place at the same time so we want to introduce community collective efficacy and that’s where we get the community to share one goal in terms of safety so we can all be on the same page.

“We can set up watch groups or community groups where they can communicate with each other.

“They can be our eyes and ears on the ground so when something happens, they can call us and we can respond in a timely manner.”

Even with the involvement of the community, Mystar said there was need to also include other agencies and groups to support the work of the police.

Noting the presence of several abandoned shacks and structures which could be used as havens for criminals, Mystar called on councillors and MPs to do their part by destroying derelict structures.

While police gathered on Freeman Road to begin their walkabout, Helen Riley, the mother of murdered vendor Daniel Riley visited the shipping containers that she and her sons used as a home to collect belongings before leaving for good.

ACP of Northern Division Wayne Mystar speaks with Helen Riley, mother of murder victim Daniel Riley, during a police walkabout in the troubled Trainline, St Augustine community.PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS 

The elder Riley left the neighbourhood with her surviving son shortly after Daniel’s murder.

Speaking with reporters before loading the last of her appliances and furniture onto a waiting van, Riley said she could not continue to live in a community that was constantly under siege.

She said while she still mourned the murder of her son, she also had the well-being of her other children to consider.

“I’m not coping so good, but I’m getting there with the help of God everyday I’m getting there.

“Every single day we sit and think about Daniel. We miss him but there’s nothing we can do about that now.

“We just have to try and move on.

“I have other children beside him so I must live for them now.”

Riley said her son’s girlfriend who was wounded in the attack was gradually recovering from her wounds.

Asked her thoughts on the continued bloodshed since her son’s murder last month, Riley said she did not think the violence would end anytime soon.

“My thoughts is to get myself and my children as far away from this place.

“This isn’t going to stop anytime. This is a never-ending war.”

During the walkabout one man was arrested for enquiries related to gang activities in the area.

Police said he was wanted for some time.