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Cambridge happy with Ratty's demise - But worry that his influence might linger

Published:Wednesday | April 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

While they are not out celebrating, many residents of Cambridge in St James are quietly thankful that they will no longer have to face the wrath of top gangster Ryan 'Ratty' Peterkin, who was killed in a confrontation with a police-military team on Saturday in Berkshire, Westmoreland.

"It is the best thing that could happen," a resident told The Gleaner on Tuesday. "We don't have to fret that when the state of emergency ends, he will come back ... . He was a cruel man. He killed people for joke, even his own family."

Peterkin, one of the nation's most wanted men at the time of his death, was the leader of the notorious Ratty gang, which had Cambridge and the nearby Retrieve community under siege for several months, robbing and murdering with impunity and showing very little respect for the police.

Now that Peterkin is dead, there is fear that his influence will linger unless efforts are made to resocialise the many youngsters who admired him and might want to emulate him

"We need a zone of special operation-style intervention here ... . We need to bring in agencies and professionals to resocialise the youngsters who saw Ratty as their hero," an educator from the community told The Gleaner. "The Ratty hype was a big thing, so it might require psychological help to reprogram these youngsters."

Highly respected, western Jamaica-based family therapist Dr Beverly Scott shares the view that the youngsters in the Cambride-Retrieve area need to be exposed to social and psychological intervention.

"The first thing we need to do is give them life skills - let them understand themselves, build their self-esteem, let them understand how worthwhile they are and how able they are to do positive things," said Scott. "We should also look at anger management ... . A lot of them are angry, not just with their families, but with society in general because they have not achieved much."

Added Scott: "Having introduced them to life skills, then we need to give them vocational or entrepreneurial skills, and we have quite a number of things they can do. Some of them might want to do self-employment, so we give them a skill."