Roma in Děčín volunteer to keep an eye on public order
In the Boletice quarter of Děčín, Roma community members have decided to keep an eye on public order. Every morning, two Romani men dressed in black overalls are volunteering to keep an eye out at the Elementary School. Children are now entering the building calmly, fights are not breaking out, no one is chasing anyone else around, and no one is smoking. The presence of the adults was the idea of local Romani resident Milan Horváth, who came to an agreement with the director of the municipal police force, Marcel Horák, according to the daily Děčínský Deník.
“I am retired and I am bored with sitting at home, where I just end up arguing with my wife, so I thought I could get a group of people together to keep an eye on public order at the school,” Horváth told the daily.
Tomáš Pavlík, spokesperson for the Děčín Municipal Police and manager of the crime prevention unit, confirmed the group is cooperating with the police. “Their task is not to protect Romani children, but to prevent fights from breaking out among all the children, and they are not doing this work as some sort of alternative sentencing,” Pavlík told the daily, adding that the work has proven effective, as fights are no longer taking place at the school.
"That’s true, because we don’t just keep an eye on the school, we also take a look around the housing estate, we are on the streets all day,” Horváth says. He also prides himself on the fact that white residents are fans of their work, considering it beneficial, while the Roma also accept and respect it - allegedly more than they would respect white people in the same role. “I agree, it has certainly calmed down here, no one is fighting anymore or scampering about, I think such a presence is necessary,” Ivona Dvořáková, a local resident bring her six-year-old son to a preparatory class at the school, told the daily.
School director Jaroslav Hauzírek is constrained in his remarks about the Roma group. "It is too early to evaluate the outcome, even though I have noticed that the children are calmer in front of the school. However, I also know that the rowdy ones just move one street over, where no one can see them, and there they behave as they always have, fighting, smoking and carrying on,” the director said. In his view the Roma group should focus on prevention rather than on monitoring and offer activities for children before and after school.
Should the collaboration with the Roma group prove effective, Tomáš Pavlík as head of the patrol officers would not be opposed to placing other volunteers in front of other schools.
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