Published On: Wed, Feb 24th, 2016

Safety in the village of Westpunt

11366908761505There has been a good deal of crime in Westpunt for a long time but up until recently it was burglary primarily. Recently the pace has picked up both in the number of events as well as the violence involved. People are now afraid to even walk from the Kura Hulanda to the fisherman’s beach and this includes the villagers. Tourists are ending up in the hospital.

Many attempts have been made in the past to get more support from the police, meetings have occurred, government folks come, and yet little changes. We very seldom see any police after dark which is when most of this happens. Some neighbors also have tried to create a neighborhood watch but that did not work because there was not enough broad based support.

People are afraid, afraid of the criminals, many who apparently live here, and afraid of giving anyone on the police any noise. This is understandable. I also understand the police’s challenges. There are never enough resources to go around. No one is to blame, only the thieves.

I started this campaign anonymously because I was afraid as well. My partner was adamant in their insistence that I not reveal myself to protect myself from any backlash. Frankly, it does not matter who I am because as a single person I really have no impact on this problem.

Our only hope is to work together as a village, as neighbors, locals, Dutch, Americans, Italians. We need to work also with the government and be committed to put the effort in where they cannot. Complaining all day about lack of effort by the police or our neighbors will solve nothing. The blame game is futile and it needs to be over here in Westpunt or we will never address this problem.

Wouldn’t it be a great story, all the different cultural groups working together to solve a critical problem that threatens not only the residents, but tourism, and all the businesses that depend on it? Perhaps it could be a framework for other parts of the island? For my part it will be great to finally meet many of my neighbors for the first time.

Finally, if folks are coming to the meeting out of curiosity or to complain about the problem, and have no plans to participate, DON’T COME. If they plan to point fingers or cover themselves, DON’T COME. If they feel there is any chance to are going to fall prey to ignorant behavior, like bigotry, DON’T COME. On the other hand if they have a desire for change and will back that up with effort please DO COME. If they are excited about working with your neighbors, learning more about them, and being part of a cohesive village, please DO COME.

I am not a professional community organizer, just someone who really cares about Westpunt, our safety, and being a truly cohesive village, not two or three villages. So I hope I have not offended anyone or the approach has been too heavy handed.

We will be having an initial meeting on March 2nd at 19:00 at the Kura Hulanda. The goal will be, as a village, to frame the problem, and discuss how we as neighbors can work together to make this wonderful town safe again. I have been publishing this on Facebook with good results but would appreciate more exposure. I did not grow up in Westpunt and many of the people I want to reach are off the Internet. So any exposure you can garner for us would be awesome.


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