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Apr 5, 2016

Williams Says Curfew Doesn’t Punish Youth – It Protects Them

Chester Williams

ACP Williams claims that one criticism also leveled at the initiative is that it punishes children for the deficiencies of their parents. He counters that by claiming that it not punishment, but actually the Police stepping in to assist the youths – keeping them productive and guiding them in the right direction.

 

ACP Chester Williams, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“The way how the child or children are taken into our care, they are not placed in any detention cell, they are not treated the way how we normally treat a person who is arrested or detained for having committed a crime. They are placed in a nice area that has television; we have mattress that they used to sleep on until morning time when the social worker can come in along with the parents and we can deal with them. Because at the end of the day, some people may want to say well why not take the child home right away. We don’t know the reason why these children are out on the streets. It could be that they are experiencing some sort of abuse at home. Now if we find them and take them home, are we helping them? No. It is only proven that we have social intervene before these children are allowed to go back home.”

 

Reporter

“Have you found any youth so far who has been armed with a weapon or found to be doing something illegal?”

 

ACP Chester Williams

“Well not since the curfew, but prior to the curfew, we have charged minors for ammunition, for guns, for murder, for shooting incidents and these kinds of things. And these are what we are trying to avoid because at the end of the day, when you look at the number of children out on the streets late at night, the only person who benefits from it are the gang members because that’s the opportunity that they take to recruit these children. Now again some of the critics are saying well what happen about the day time? We also have an aspect of it during the daytime. What we do during the day is we have patrols that go to all the different gang bases and if any child is found in these gang bases, the child is picked up and brought to the police station. We get the parent and social in and we also get truancy if it is a child who belongs in school—and we all know that the legal age for a child to be in school is any child under the age of fourteen. So when we encounter those children, then we get truancy involved as well and then we look to see why is it that these children are not in school. And that is another preventative aspect because once these children are seen in a particular gang area; they automatically become tagged to that gang. When another gang sees them they’ll say well oh he is a member of that gang because I saw him there. Then you have thirteen, twelve year old children who cannot go to school because of this same reason; they are seen in a certain gang area and to go to school, I have to pass that gang area and it creates a problem. So what we are doing again is also assist these young people so that they can go get an education for themselves.”

 

Williams met today with representatives from UNICEF to dispel concerns that the curfew violates children’s rights.

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