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The Government has earmarked $100 million to refurbish 33 police stations during this financial year, with an additional $800 million being allotted for the building of eight new stations.
This is according to the Minister of National Security, Senator Colonel Trevor MacMillan, who noted that 19 stations have already been refurbished. “Only last Thursday, the Old Harbour Bay Police Station was commissioned into service, while over in St. Thomas, the Llandewey Station has also been commissioned into service. Two others are in advanced stages of completion,” the Minister said.
He was speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica’s, (AMCHAM) Speaker’s Forum Luncheon at the Hilton Kingston Hotel yesterday (Aug. 19).
Senator MacMillan further informed that the stations to be constructed are Bath which is already underway, as well as Point Hill, Bluefields and Lacovia.
He noted too, that the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Training Academy at Twickenham Park, which has not been properly maintained over the last 15 years, needs about $1billion to bring it back to the level required. “This year, we are expecting to spend about $400 million towards ensuring that it can carry out its proper mandate, and plans are in place for us to, in the next two or three years, bridge that gap and bring it up to the $1billion.”
Turning to the limited number of police officers in the JCF, Colonel MacMillan, informed that at the Police Training College, only some 220 new recruits can be trained per year, noting that over 300 police officers are being lost through retirement and resignation annually. This, he said, means “we have a problem.”
He noted that if these additional trained police persons were available, “it would have a significant impact on our current crime rate. We would be able to increase the number of police personnel in communities, on traffic duty to deal with indiscipline on our roads and other such situations.”
The Minister further informed that since the start of the year, eight members of the JCF have died, all in the line of duty. “The irony is that the force is approximately 4,000 short of its establishment. In other words, we should have about 12,000 police officers, we have just over 8,000,” he said.
“We must recognise that these members of the JCF risk their lives every single day, (in) the protection of us,” he added.
AMCHAM, established in May 1986, is a non-profit independent association formed by United States (US) business people and Jamaican nationals, who do business with the US.