Residents tell police, HDC: Get rid of Oropune criminals

On the heels of the sec­ond mur­der with­in the last month at Orop­une Gar­dens, res­i­dents of the area are up in arms over the in­crease in gun vi­o­lence in the area and oth­er il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

They are call­ing for an im­me­di­ate in­ter­ven­tion by of­fi­cials at the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the po­lice.

 

The lat­est mur­der oc­curred on Thurs­day at about 9.38 pm where a man was gunned down out­side Build­ing 4A.

He was iden­ti­fied as Calvin Carl­ton Strak­er, 27. He lived at Orop­une Gar­dens and Sama­roo Vil­lage in Ari­ma.

On June 4, Kadeem Young, 19, aka “Smeagol” and DJ Kid­do was shot dead out­side that same build­ing at about 9.15 pm.

One frus­trat­ed res­i­dent said in a com­mu­ni­ty What­sApp chat that res­i­dents were in fear­ful, frus­trat­ed, ir­ri­tat­ed, and an­gry at this sit­u­a­tion which seems to be spi­ralling out of con­trol.

 

She al­so said that in the last few weeks they heard gun­shots from “sim­i­lar high-pow­ered weapons ring­ing out on al­most a dai­ly ba­sis.”

The res­i­dent, whose name has been with­held by Guardian Me­dia, said last Wednes­day, res­i­dents held a meet­ing to dis­cuss how to in­tend to take back their com­mu­ni­ty from the crim­i­nal el­e­ments.

She said sev­er­al agen­cies were in­vit­ed to the meet­ing in­clud­ing the HD­Cs Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Brent Lyons —whom she said failed to show but sent a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the HDC’s Fa­cil­i­ties Man­age­ment Unit.

The res­i­dents want­ed Lyons to hear first-hand of some of their com­plaints so that he can ad­dress them.

The res­i­dent said re­cent­ly Lyons and the Hous­ing Min­is­ter Ed­mund Dil­lon walked through their com­mu­ni­ty but dur­ing work­ing hours when most res­i­dents would not have been at home.

“But what did they see? What did they find? How are they ad­dress­ing the is­sues out­lined by the res­i­dents? The blame for the spi­ralling crime in the com­mu­ni­ty rests with the HDC,” the res­i­dent said.

“They are ful­ly aware that they are not en­forc­ing the rules that will al­low the com­mu­ni­ty to re­main safe. There is a thriv­ing hard­ware near Build­ing 4A. Is it le­gal? Car wash par­ties on a reg­u­lar ba­sis; ear-pop­ping mu­sic; shops and busi­ness­es that are not sup­posed to be op­er­at­ing with­in this res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ty. The crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty is spread­ing through­out the com­mu­ni­ty, “ she added.

The woman who claimed that she had been robbed twice - her car was stolen from her at gun­point out­side her home last year, and one month lat­er her house was bro­ken in­to - said some res­i­dents were har­bour­ing crim­i­nals and hid­ing weapons.

“HDC needs to en­force the rules and start evict­ing per­sons who are flout­ing the rules, evict per­sons who are op­er­at­ing busi­ness­es il­le­gal­ly, evict per­sons who are il­le­gal­ly oc­cu­py­ing apart­ments, evict per­sons who are har­bour­ing crim­i­nals. Work with the po­lice, work with res­i­dents to make the com­mu­ni­ty safe, “ she added.

HDC work­ing to re­solve

il­le­gal oc­cu­pan­cy

In an im­me­di­ate re­sponse, the HDC said in a state­ment that the safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty of res­i­dents in all HDC com­mu­ni­ties are is­sues which the Cor­po­ra­tion gives se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion.

 

“As such, the HDC has de­vel­oped and main­tained a pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the pro­tec­tive ser­vices such as T&T Po­lice Ser­vice and T&T De­fence Force, the en­ti­ties re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of law and or­der in the coun­try,” the re­lease stat­ed.

“Those which are with­in the con­trol and re­mit of the HDC, such as the pro­vi­sion of Cer­tifi­cates of Char­ac­ter be­fore the al­lo­ca­tion of any res­i­dents and the evic­tion of il­le­gal oc­cu­pants in tan­dem with the TTPS are on­go­ing. How­ev­er, the HDC can­not be held sole­ly re­spon­si­ble for all of Orop­une Gar­dens’ is­sues. The TTPS re­mains the sole en­ti­ty re­spon­si­ble for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty,” it added.

To treat with some of the so­cial is­sues af­fect­ing Orop­une Gar­dens, the HDC said it has con­tin­ued its com­mu­ni­ty en­gage­ment ef­forts, the lat­est be­ing on April 27, where the HDC’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Brent Lyons and an ex­ec­u­tive team spent the morn­ing meet­ing with res­i­dents and lis­ten­ing to their con­cerns.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the HDC team was ac­com­pa­nied by the of­fi­cers from the TTPS and the Orop­une Po­lice Youth Club. Many of the con­cerns raised by res­i­dents on that day, were not­ed and so­lu­tions will soon be im­ple­ment­ed.

It fur­ther stat­ed that on May 31, Lyons met with the Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice to dis­cuss is­sues re­lat­ed to the con­tin­ued sup­port from the TTPS for evic­tion of il­le­gal oc­cu­pants; se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns of Orop­une Gar­dens; con­tin­ued col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Orop­une Po­lice Youth Club and the re­cent­ly launched Com­mis­sion­er’s Cup which is aimed at fos­ter­ing greater com­mu­ni­ty spir­it among com­mu­ni­ties (in­clud­ing Orop­une Gar­dens) and pro­mot­ing bet­ter re­la­tions among res­i­dents.

“As part of its on­go­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the HDC’s So­cial and Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices De­part­ment have al­so vis­it­ed the com­mu­ni­ty many times this year to deal with res­i­dents’ com­plaints and oth­er is­sues.

In April and May, the HDC’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and a tech­ni­cal team, com­pris­ing en­gi­neers, vis­it­ed the com­mu­ni­ty to fi­nalise flood mit­i­ga­tion so­lu­tions,” the re­lease stat­ed.

With spe­cif­ic ref­er­ence to the meet­ing held on June 26, the HDC man­ag­ing di­rec­tor was un­able to at­tend but del­e­gat­ed re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to an of­fi­cer from the Mal­oney area of­fice, which has re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for Orop­une Gar­dens and su­per­vi­sors from the Se­cu­ri­ty De­part­ment.

“As much as our re­sources al­low, the HDC re­mains com­mit­ted to work­ing with the rel­e­vant agen­cies to ar­rive at time­ly so­lu­tions for the res­i­dents, not on­ly of Orop­une Gar­dens but for the res­i­dents of all the com­mu­ni­ties that fall un­der our purview, “ the re­lease said.

- by Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant. Photo by Abraham Diaz.

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