Last week, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), through its Resistance And Prevention Program (RAPP), organized a five-day workshop to train local facilitators on effective crime prevention strategies.
A total of 21 key stakeholders from the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, Department of Social Services, Urban Renewal, Ministry of Education, the Bahamas Bar Association, law enforcement agencies and community activists participated in the sessions held at the Bahamas Red Cross headquarters.
PADF Program Coordinator Charo Walker-Morley said the certification workshop provided facilitators with practical prevention tools for crime reduction. “We targeted law enforcement and justice sector officials as well as community leaders who are actively involved in crime prevention to participate,” she said.
“As a result of the training, persons are able to go into areas as facilitators for the RAPP program and work as catalysts within the community.”
PADF brought in detectives Mary Wheat and Jason Jones of the Portland Police Bureau in Portland, Oregon to conduct the training. The team identified proven prevention and intervention techniques used to resolve community conflicts throughout the United States and in other territories in the region. Training modules for each session were structured around group activities, discussions and presentations on topics such as “Root Causes of Youth Crime and Violence”, “Gangs and Organized Crime” and “Understanding Domestic Violence and Teen Dating Abuse”.
Workshop participant Donna Mae Humes, chief correctional officer, Bahamas Department of Corrections, said her best experience was standing in front of the class on the final day and giving a presentation on “Communication and Effective Listening”.
“The training will allow me to carry out outreach with female inmates in an effort to turn them away from a life of crime,” she said.
The training comes after a series of initiatives put on by RAPP since the launch of its second phase back in April. Organizers work closely with the Royal Bahamas Police Force to impact urban communities through job shadowing, youth dialogues and mock court trials. Over 100 young Bahamians have completed job shadowing activities at RBPF headquarters, the Department of Correctional Services and Bahamas Customs.
“Job shadowing allows young people to see how professionals administer law in the country. It works to build trust between the participants and law enforcement agents. By seeing the day-to-day operations in various agencies, they can interact in a positive way with persons in positions of authority and are exposed to real career options for the future,” Walker-Morley explained.
Last month, the program also collaborated with the Royal Bahamas Police Force summer camp and the Elijhay’s Hilltop Cottage Ministries Camp Extraordinaire 2016. Plans are in progress for the newly certified facilitators to set up community dialogues at venues within neighborhoods, where persons can talk about the impact of crime and leaders can apply new techniques from the training.
RAPP falls under the Washington, D.C.-based PADF and is fully funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. In addition to work in New Providence, organizers will extend the program throughout The Bahamas including Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera and Mayaguana. Currently, RAPP (Resistance And Prevention Program) is active in The Bahamas, Trinidad and Suriname.