KINGSTON — The annual awards scheme for the police, instituted just over three years ago by Clarendon businessman and vice chairman of the parish's Crime Prevention Committee, Anthony Smattt, has been motivating its law enforcement officers to exceptional performances, greatly reducing crime in the parish.
Top Criminal Investigator for 2009, Woman Detective Corporal Mellissa Simms, who is attached to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), keeps her award very safe at home, as a reminder of the parish’s appreciation of her work.
"I had a 50 percent cleared up rate and, receiving the award, I feel that my work was recognized," she told JIS News.
Police Youth Club Leader for the year 2009, Constable Fredi Ferguson, who also lifted the honour for being the Community Policing Officer for 20011, said he is motivated to be an example to his colleagues and to continue giving of his best.
"It has motivated me to go further with the youth club activities, to uplift the communities from crime and violence and afford opportunities to the residents," Constable Ferguson said.
Special Corporal Collin Blackstock, who received a top award for his discipline and deportment, said when the police are recognized for their work, it helps to raise their performance levels.
"It enhances and encourages one to step up on whatever they are doing, and I will try my utmost best to continue on the same trend, so that my juniors can follow and (hopefully) next time I can be awarded again," he remarked in an interview with JIS News.
The award scheme seeks to encourage the work of serving and retiring policemen and women in the Clarendon Division and highlighting exceptional work. While Mr. Smatt provides the funds, the persons are chosen by a board headed by the Senior Superintendent for the parish.
The scheme also allows for special awards to deserving civilians, organizations rendering outstanding service to national security, as well as those who have otherwise contributed to the aims and objectives of the division.
In 2011, more than 80 serving and retired members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and other auxiliary police groups, were honoured for outstanding contributions to reducing crime in the parish.
Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon Dwight Nelson, lauded Chairman of the Crime Prevention Committee and Custos of Clarendon, Hon. William “Billy” Shagoury, and his deputy, Anthony Smatt. He also announced that next year, if he is still security minister, he will seek to introduce similar awards across the island.
Mr. Smatt said he decided on the annual awards, because the police are putting their lives on the line.
"When we are sleeping they are out there, when we need help we call them and they are the reason why we are able to freely walk around," he explained.
He urged his business colleagues to make an effort to reward members of the security forces when they do good work. He said that, giving rewards to crimefighters in a public arena will encourage others to work in the best interest of the nation.
"I believe then, and I believe now, that someone should show appreciation to the police… I make sure that the policemen and women know that we, the citizens of Clarendon, appreciate what they are doing," Mr. Smatt stated.
Top Criminal Investigator of 2011, Leonard Jennings, pointed out that his work is to seek out truth, to approach his job with an open mind and to get the facts. He said he found pleasure in investigating crime, and that the award would motivate him to work even harder.
"One of the greatest satisfaction that a victim of a crime gets, is to know that there is closure and the guilty person is brought before the court and gets the maximum conviction," he said.
Commander of the Year, Woman Sergeant Sonia Campbell, noted that to be effective as a Commander requires skills in deploying limited resources to achieve results, as well as effective communications with staff and the community.
"I am very elated and, hopefully, it will help me to move forward," she said.
The parish of Clarendon has seen a drop of 52 percent drop in murders since the start of the year, with 66 less than last year. Major crimes are also down, by 153 percent. Senior JCF officers believe that the Clarendon police are on a high and will continue these gains.
Head of the Division, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Dathan Henry, says he hopes the awards scheme will continue.
"We salute you (Mr. Smatt), and we are eternally grateful and trust that you will continue this initiative for many, many more years to come," he concluded.