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The Municipal Police Corps of the Department of Local Government has been strengthened with the addition of 28 new officers to increase the establishment to 180 members.
The new officers, who participated in a five-week basic municipal police training course at the Jamaica Police Academy, Twickenham Park, St. Catherine, between February 1 and March 4, represent the seventh cohort intake since the Department commenced the course in January 2008. The course, which is the brainchild of State Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, is taught by the Academy’s In-service Training Department.
Speaking at the recent graduation exercise at the Academy, Financial Economist in the Local Government Department, Mr. Lewis Williams, pointed out that since the course’s inception, all 14 local authorities, comprising the 12 Parish Councils, the Portmore Municipal Council and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), have had officers assigned to them to assist in executing their operations, including the maintenance of public order; enforcing municipal laws; enhancing revenue streams, and improving compliance.
Mr. Williams noted the importance of the municipal police officer corps, which he described as an “essential part of the local government reform process.” He also highlighted the key role they play in strengthening the maintenance of public order within public centres as well as augmenting the revenue collection capacity of the Councils.
“Local authorities, in an environment of global economic recession and the requirement of financial autonomy, are challenged to find adequate revenue. Central Government also has to exercise fiscal constraint and is not able to fully support all the financial needs of the Councils. (Local authorities), therefore, have to place greater emphasis on own-source revenues. The municipal police force, working in strategic collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), will definitely enhance the revenues of the Councils. It is a fact, supported by empirical data, that Councils that judiciously utilise these trained officers realise greater revenue,” he stated.
Mr. Williams described the latest graduates as “products of an intensive and rigorous training programme,” which has adequately prepared them for the challenges they are expected to face on the job, consequent on the demands that will be made of them by their municipalities and communities. In light of this, he urged that they be given full support in meeting these expectations and fulfilling their mandates.
“We urge you all to be supportive of the officers. We welcome any recommendation for comments you have to offer. We fervently implore the directorate of the various Councils to be supportive of these officers and do not yield to the temptation of impeding them in their duties. Provide the necessary support and guidance to them. You are urged to ensure that these new graduates have adequate accommodation, orientation and absorption into the Councils. They must not feel alienated,” he implored.
Mr. Williams urged the graduates to seize the opportunity afforded them to serve, while seeking to advance themselves professionally and personally.
National Security Minister, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, in his address, congratulated the graduates, noting the “momentum” which municipal policing had gained in recent years. He pointed out that municipal policing encompasses a “variety of philosophical and practical approaches,” adding that it is still “evolving.”
“The strategies of municipal policing vary, depending on the needs and responses of the areas involved. Certainly, when you graduate, are assigned to your respective municipalities, I’m sure you will discover this,” the Minister said, while pointing out that certain basic principles and considerations are common to the policing effort in all areas.
Senator Nelson reminded the graduates that as officers, they have a responsibility to ensure the preservation of law and order, and urged them to avoid being “pigeon-holed” into focusing solely on parish council matters.
“Make sure that you address other situations and seek assistance from other police officers who are trained more expansively to deal with other situations outside of your purview,” he urged, while imploring them to be cognisant of their roles and responsibilities, and endeavouring to deliver on expectations of them.
The municipal police training course covered some 25 topics, focusing on a range of areas, including: police techniques; court procedures; statement writing; local government laws and regulations; and operations of councils. Certificates and special awards were presented to the graduates.
The 28 graduates, including 11 females, were drawn from St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. Ann and St. Mary. They will be assigned to those councils.