Deputy Commissioner urges youths: ‘Turn away from evil’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Project GRACE consultant Joanne James speaks with acting Deputy Commissioner of Police for intelligence and investigations Curt Simon during the project GRACE school supply distribution at the San Fernando Police Station. – AYANNA KINSALE

DEPUTY Commissioner of Police (DCP) Curt Simon is encouraging children to fear God and depart from evil, which he says would help make this country a better place.

The senior policeman spoke at the police administration building in San Fernando during the Project GRACE (Gang Reduction and Community Empowerment) back-to-school drive in which the police distributed stationery supplies to the children.

“To fear God is the beginning of wisdom. To depart from evil is understanding. When you fear God, you have wisdom. When you depart from evil, you have understanding. You can stand in anyone’s presence and say, ‘That which you know, I know also, so I am not inferior to you,’” Simon said.

“I don’t want you, young people, growing up thinking you are inferior to anyone. I do not want young people being guided into evil.”

The children were members of various police youth clubs as well as members of the Islamic Home for Children at Bonne Aventure Road in Gasparillo. They were between the ages of five and 19.

Simon told the recipients that Project GRACE is about the police, government, and other institutions (private and otherwise) interacting with communities.

He said the programme focuses on areas, people, and institutions susceptible to gang influence.

“We went to prevent that. So we look at you, our future, and try to interact and intervene to try to save our country from going where it is going,” Simon said.

He called on them to reject any calls to join any gangs.

“We are here to show you that we care. We care about you, and we want to be instrumental, inspirational, in a place where we can encourage you to choose the right path in growing up, in coming into society and give it something better what gangs are offering,” Simon said.

“I want you to secure your minds in a particular place, in a place that fear God and in a place that runs away from evil.”

Consultant at project GRACE, Joanne James, gave an overview of the technical assistance programme, which is geared at improving law enforcement capabilities to address gang-related security challenges by strengthening the TTPS’s community policing and intelligence-led and evidence-based efforts.

She said the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is the project’s implementing agency, which the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) sponsored.

“Project GRACE is in line with the police’s strategic plan 2022-2024 and will assist the police service in working on three of its five strategic priorities: community partnerships, public safety, and operational excellence,” James said.

Snr Supt Subhas Ramkhelawan, the leader of the Whiteland police youth club, said the organisation wrote the Education Ministry earlier in the year and got permission to use the Gasparillo secondary school to host activities.

The club has classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for members, students from the secondary school, and in the community.

“Close to 100 people from the district have already shown interest in our dance class, artery, and sporting activities,” Ramkhelwan said.

“We are going to do what is called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTD). It is aligned with the TTPS strategic plan. We have engaged the business community and we are going to set up a hydroponic at the school.”

Private pilot, mechanical technician, and part-time farmer Christopher Ramoutar urged the recipients always to try to reach their full potential.

Ramoutar also owns Hello Universe, an online centre that offers leadership and people skills programmes.

He recalled a near-death experience from an accident on Christmas night a few years ago. He said he used the knowledge from the programme to overcome the challenge.

These include what he called the “five mountains” of personal development through physical, mental, emotional, intuition, and spiritual teaching.

He offered to train the students free of charge.

Ramoutar also runs a YouTube channel titled Dutty Farms WI.

Rishi Bansraj, a youth officer from the Ministry of Youth Development and National Services as well as ASP Bertie, of the Southern Division, gave remarks.

Dr Kelvin Corbett, a police corporal, entertained the gathering by playing Amazing Grace on the pan. He is also a facilitator of Project GRACE.