Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said today’s meeting with primary school teachers and principals of Rose Hill RC, Bethlehem Boys’ RC, Bethlehem Girls’ RC, and Our Lady of Laventille RC schools was “very healthy” and “excellent”.
Also in attendance were the Chief Education Officer of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) Sharon Mangroo and Ministry of Education officials.
Speaking to Catholic News at the Catholic Centre, Jacob said, “Persons were able to voice their opinion. We gave everybody the opportunity to speak, and I think we have reached some consensus on the way forward…”
He explained that all parties at today’s meeting recognised that it’s not just about providing the physical security but dealing with the mental aspect and the trauma of the teachers and pupils.
“…We are willing to provide the necessary physical support with the police presence, but to deal with the mental trauma…”
Jacob referred to the critical role of the Victim Support Officers and social workers who were in attendance. “…they do the initial work and then link with the Ministry [of Education] so all of that will be put in place. And when that work is done, we will see whether or not we can actually open the school on Wednesday [November 9].”
While Rose Hill RC became the centre of attention as a viral video last Wednesday, November 2 depicted students lying on the ground in fear as the sound of rapid gunfire echoed in the vicinity, Jacob underscored that today’s discussion also focused on providing the necessary security and safety similarly, for the surrounding primary schools.
He said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has recognised that institutions such as schools present a “good opportunity” to “indirectly adopt the schools” and engage them with community police, “doing different things to help students and them develop”.