News

Taxi drivers, cops face off in football match

BY ANIKA RICHARDS Observer Online writer richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 24, 2014 | 5:36 PM    

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ST CATHERINE, Jamaica — Crime fighting through football — this is the thrust coming out of the St Catherine North Police Division where police officers will be contesting a one-day football competition with taxi operators from St Catherine, on Sunday.

The Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is hosting the football match, scheduled for a 4:00 pm kick-off at the Spanish Town Prison Oval in the parish.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police in charge of the St Catherine North Division, Anthony Castelle, it is a bid to bridge the gap between taxi operators and lawmen in the parish.

Castelle told OBSERVER ONLINE in an interview Friday that this is the first time they will be having a football match with taxi operators, but that it is all in the name of crime fighting.

"We have had other matches between ourselves and Rastafarians and so forth, but we need to bridge the gap between ourselves and the taxi men," said Castelle, who will also be competing in the football match.

"A lot of them are our friends and we do not want to be seen as their enemies out there.

"They know that if they commit a breach, they will be prosecuted, but from a humanitarian perspective, we do not want to isolate anyone," Castelle shared.

This football competition appears to be a natural extension in an attempt to change the face of the division — which Castelle said has become synonymous with crime and criminals — because he has been invited on numerous occasions to kick off the ball at community matches.

"We have had policemen against members of the community and we have police officers who are on some of the community teams, but we have never had a police/taxi man match," said Castelle.

"We don't want to be seen as the oppressors who are just issuing tickets," Castelle noted, adding that it is nice to have a better relationship with community members.

Castelle added that if a taxi man is robbed after picking up passengers, that taxi man should feel comfortable coming to the police station to report the matter, knowing that the information, which could eventually help in apprehending the perpetrators, will be kept confidential.

Community members attending the match will be treated to a performance by a recording artiste.

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