The National Neighbourhood Watch (NNW) program, which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Security, was introduced to Eleuthera during a week-long training session from January 27th to 31st, 2020, with training sessions taking place simultaneously throughout the week in North, Central and South Eleuthera, facilitated by Program Liaison Police Officers out of New Providence.
More than 100 community members across the island took part in the training sessions for the creation of the Eleuthera branch of the National Neighbourhood Watch, which was followed by a formal graduation of the new community participants and leaders in the program during a ceremony held on Friday evening, January 31st, at the St. Patrick’s Parish Hall in Governor’s Harbour.
The onset of the pandemic in March may have curtailed initial efforts to implement active community programs, however, with the easing of restrictions beginning mid-summer, townships across the island set their sights on growing membership and actively taking part in community improvement and assistance programs.
During the month of September, branches from Harbour Island to Deep Creek took part in walkabouts, community and beach cleanups, neighbour assistance, school yard cleanups, fitness and training, community prayer, back to school initiatives and others.
Wednesday, September 2nd, saw W/Sgt. 232 Rodgers, Liason Officer for National Neighbourhood Watch Council (NNWC), South Eleuthera Branch lead a walkabout in the Rock Sound township, accompanied by Rock Sound branch president, Wayde Sands and his team. Homes and businesses were visited and residents were informed about the presence and purpose of the NNWC and encouraged to become active members. Information was also given on how they could contribute to making their community safer in partnership with the police. Feedback from residents, according to Officer Rodgers, was positive.
The following Saturday, in Deep Creek, the NNWC there, gathered on the Deep Creek Park to Pray for the community, have a Car Wash fund-raiser, and clean up the yard of one of the town’s vulnerable residents, Mr. Roland Sands. The event began with a worship and prayer session, after which, volunteers separated into various teams to execute their specific tasks while the food handlers kept them refreshed with food, cool drinks, and water. A total of nineteen (19) vehicles were cleaned from a wide range of patrons and at the residence of Mr. Sands, large trees were chopped down, garbage was removed, and the lawn mowed. Five loads of trash from this work was transported to the dumpsite, and activities concluded mid-afternoon.
In Governor’s Harbour and Palmetto Point, on September 9th the local branch of the NNWC, led by Inspector Julian Newbold participated in its first event, which aimed at raising public awareness of the program. Flyers and member applications along with a bottle of water were provided to approximately sixty (60) motorists traversing Queens Highway, Governor’s Harbour, and the initiative continued in Palmetto Point, where another thirty five (35) flyers and applications were shared.
Back in Deep Creek, on September 10th, the local NNWC tackled another neighbourhood yard, giving it a good shave and sprucing up. Mr. Gibson, the recipient of the volunteer work, who was experiencing ‘hard times’ as a result of the pandemic, was said to have been very emotional and expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the Deep Creek NNWC for coming to his aid.
On Monday, September 14th, 2020, local Police NNWC Liaison Officers, W/Sgt. 3259 Alexandria Albury, and WR/Cpl. 42 Sybil Forbes facilitated a Citizens On Patrol (COP) Training Program for practitioners of the National Neighbourhood Watch Council (NNWC) in Eleuthera at Worker’s House, Governor’s Harbour. Officer Albury gave participants a brief overview of the COP program, which would include a week-long training on various subjects including report writing, radio usage, and mobile and foot patrol techniques. Guest presenter, Superintendent Franklyn Neely, then opened the training with a session on ethics and professionalism. He highlighted the importance of NNWC practitioners having good character and acting with integrity. He noted that the NNWC Eleuthera was receiving lots of commendations for their efforts thus far and he reported that, since the program started, there had been a significant reduction in criminal activities. The session concluded with remarks from President Marvin Gibson, of the Deep Creek NNWC, who told the audience that he wanted the various NNWC groups to establish rapport, share ideas and build connections throughout the entire island of Eleuthera.
Staying active, the Deep Creek NNWC, the following day conducted a school yard cleanup with a team of volunteers from the Haitian community, led by NNWC member Johnny Alexis. The group aimed to clear the bushy area behind the school and by early evening had cleared the entire southern side of the hill behind the campus. They committed to returning to the school every evening until the work was completed.
On September 16, both north and central NNWC branches were out and about. In Governor’s Harbour and Palmetto Point Police joined NNWC members, along with Department of Environmental Health (DEHS) Vector Control Officer, Alana Clarke, on a joint community walk-about to assess the occurence of derelict vehicles and other environmental infraction. Approximately forty six (46) vehicles were identified and tagged for removal and an additional seven (7) homeowners were asked to remove beds and old appliances from their premises.
The NNWC in Harbour Island, along with police liaison officers, on the same day held a community walk-about throughout the island. The purpose of the walk-about was to highlight concerns that had been expressed by residents about compliance to emergency orders protocols, illegal immigrants and sanitation of the community. Various rental units were identified as havens for illegal immigrants and sources of unsanitary living conditions and possible fire hazards due to illegal electrical connections. The team also visited an area on the property of the Runaway Hill Resort, where a Shanty Town was located. Business houses were also visited and their staff members were updated on the emergency orders as it related to mask-wearing and proper social distancing of their patrons. While on the walk-about, the team checked in on a community cleanup, spearheaded by Briland Aide in conjunction with NNWC Harbour Island which was in progress. A bushy area that was a haven for derelict vehicles and trash had been cleared by the volunteers and the trash had been hauled away. At the end of the walk-about participants discussed the way forward, and a virtual round-table was suggested, to further discuss concerns and to network to find solutions.
On Friday, September 18th, 2020, following a week of intense training on various subjects and crime management tactics, NNWC participants in the Citizens-On-Patrol (COP) programme, received their certificate of completion as newly certified members of the crime-watch initiative. Lecturers during the week included, Superintendent Franklyn Neely, ASP Anthony McCartney, Inspector Rico Farquharson and Inspector Julian Newbold.
Project S.O.F.T (Shaping Our Future Together) Men’s Auxiliary of the Deep Creek National Neighbourhood Watch Council (NNWC), under the leadership of Team Captain Neil Thompson, hosted a Back-To-School Community Prayer and Car Wash at the Deep Creek Park on Saturday, September 19th. Residents came out to donate and enjoy the treats while getting their vehicles vacuumed and washed. Later in the day, school bags and supplies, that were donated by the Thompson Family Reunion, were distributed to all of the preschool, primary and high school students. Representatives of the Kiwanis Club of South Eleuthera, led by Natalie Russell, were also on hand for this event, and provided the children with popcorn and snow cones.
In Governor’s Harbour on the same Saturday, NNWC members launched a neighbourhood clean up program, led by Mr. Andre Butler(President) and Mr. Paul Simmons (Vice President). The program started with the cleaning of the Haynes Beach, and the initiative was set to continue as an ongoing event in the upcoming weeks, with the upkeep and beautification of the Governor’s Harbour community as the goal.
Work continued at the rear of the Deep Creek primary school campus on September 22nd, with the area being cleared earmarked to become a Divisional Garden, a signature initiative of the NNWC. The group worked at the school for about an hour and a half cutting and clearing the area, and plans were set in motion for another group to go in to clean up the litter and debris the following Saturday.
With a mindset to work on getting healthy during this time of pandemic, Officer Renardo Brown in South Eleuthera hosted a drill training and exercise initiative on Tuesday evening, September 22nd, with recently certified (COP) trainees and other interested NNWC members. He was joined by eleven residents who were excited to take part in the workout session. The objective, said Officer Brown, was to help residents to get in shape, while also fostering unity and togetherness in the community.
DEHS Vector Control Officer, Lance Brown, accompanied the Deep Creek NNWC on a tour of the community on Thursday, September 24th to identify derelict vehicles for transport to the dumpsite. NNWC president Gibson explained that efforts were being made to have the derelicts removed because, aside from contributing to rodent infestation, they were an eyesore and an environmental hazard. Officer Munnings, noting the number of tires and derelict appliances, stressed that these would also need to be considered for removal as they were helping to exacerbate the already challenging mosquito problem troubling the community. In total, 66 vehicles were counted and marked for removal, and DEHS assured they would fog the community for mosquitoes when weather conditions were favourable.