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JIS News

The Central Kingston police is reporting a drop in delinquency among students of high schools in the division, which are benefiting under the Safe Schools Programme.
Deputy Superintendent of Police at the Kingston Central Division, Marlon T. Dietrich, says that in some schools, delinquency has been reduced by approximately 90 per cent. “We have seen a reduction in delinquent and truant behaviours,” he tells JIS News, adding that discipline has been “drastically improved”.
The programme, which is being coordinated by the Ministries of Education, Youth and Culture and National Security, is designed to quell violence in schools and create safe zones for learning. It has been in operation in 89 primary, all-age and secondary schools island wide since last September. Kingston Technical High, Kingston High School, St. George’s College, Holy Trinity High and Kingston College are among the institutions in the central Kingston police division, in which the programme was instituted.
According to Constable W. Miller, the aim of the programme is to “reduce violence, anti social behaviours, truancy and generally to keep the environment at schools safe.”
A major aspect of the intervention, is the placement of School Resource Officers (SROs) in the institutions, who are responsible for mentoring students and mediating in disputes; they work with the school administration to identify and monitor areas on the school compound that pose potential dangers to students; conduct security surveillance and truancy watches to ensure that students who should be in school are not on the streets; and conduct weapons surveillance.
But even as the Central Kingston police works to foster a “positive vibe” at school, it is also working on a larger scale, to reduce community violence generally.
The police management team of the Kingston Central Division holds community meetings two to three times per month with citizens and according to DSP Dietrich, this is not an easy task as there are various communities with which to interact. “This takes a lot of networking because the citizens tend to be tribalistic in their behaviour at times,” he says.
One of the major challenges the team faces, he tells JIS News, is that of “imaginary borders.one that some cannot venture across and that poses a problem. We therefore have to be selective in a location for the meetings.”
Although meeting venues have to be carefully determined, the Deputy Superintendent was quick to explain that they have never been met with hostility but rather apprehension, “because when you approach them they tend to be very reserved in coming forward, always looking at things in another light before they really accept that you are really there on a good mission”.
This aside, the meetings have been going well and the citizens have highlighted issues such as unemployment, lack of adequate supplies of water, electricity and street lighting as their main concerns.
He points out that his team has helped to address a myriad of issues by interacting with the relevant agencies such as the Jamaica Public Service Company and the National Water Commission. “We make all the efforts to have their concerns addressed,” DSP Dietrich says.
The Kingston Restoration Company (KRC) has been called upon to partner with the police in a number of community projects and has instituted skills training programmes for young people.
The company has assisted the police by providing furniture and equipment, including a computer. It has also adopted the Gold Street Police Station and has since donated a Suzuki jeep to the facility.
KRC also continues to work with the citizens in the area by assisting young people and the community in general with skills training programmes.
Other initiatives targeting the youth include the Summer Outreach Programme, through which students are exposed to pottery and jewellery making through the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts, and benefit from motivational talks. “We have resource people coming in to speak with them on various topics,” DSP Dietrich explains.
They also receive assistance with their schoolwork through the homework centre established in Fletcher’s Land.
Over the programme’s three years of existence, it has catered to some 150 to 200 students between the ages of eight and 17. It is sponsored by Jamaica National Building Society, GraceKennedy and other institutions.