JIS News

Community policing has been embraced by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as an effective means of establishing closer ties with members of communities, which ultimately should result in better co-operation in the fight against crime.
Over the last six years, this strategy has been a compulsory component of the training which all members of the Force have to pursue.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Norman Heywood, of the JCF’s Corporate Strategy Division, tells JIS News that community policing “promotes a commitment between people and their local police to work together to identify, prioritise and solve problems of crime, disorder, fear of crimes, community decay and improve the overall quality of life for everyone”.
“So basically, it’s a partnership that we are looking at between the police and community to look at incidents that affect the community and trying to work to create safer communities,” he adds.
The Deputy Superintendent explains that community policing is one of two policing techniques practised by most police organisations, the other being traditional policing. “Traditional policing is highly reactive, and community policing is more proactive and engages the community in day to day operations and processes in order to make the communities safer,” he points out.
Mr. Heywood says that so as not to separate the two styles of policing, the JCF has made a concerted effort to integrate community policing into the general policing functions of the Force.
Community policing, he notes, was first tried on a formal basis in 1993 and 1994 by the JCF, with police officers being selected from six Corporate Area police stations and one rural station, to be trained as community police officers.
“The model worked well, but for expansion purposes, we realised that we couldn’t have a two tier system, where some officers were practising traditional policing and others community policing. So, when the JCF’s corporate strategy unit was launched in 1998, we embarked on an entrenchment methodology, whereby we decided to train every single member of the Force and its auxiliaries in the concept and philosophy of community policing,” the Deputy Superintendent tells JIS News.
“Right now, you will find all members of the Force, from the basic training phase right up to command courses at the staff college, have some training or basic knowledge on what community policing is all about,” he notes.
The Deputy Superintendent says the model for community policing, which the Force is promoting, is focused on the three specific areas – intelligence, problem solving and developing partnerships.
He points out that the three tenets are first introduced to recruits in basic training, where they are taught the practices and principles of community policing. “Their training is highly philosophical; they are taught about what community policing is all about, the different components, the partnership, and so on,” he explains.
Officers of higher ranks within the Force are also exposed to the tenets by way of refresher training courses, which are taught by trainers, with one being posted in every division of the JCF across the island.
Mr. Heywood tells JIS News that he has seen tangible results of community policing. “Within the divisions, you find that officers are talking about more intelligence driven operations, more intelligence driven patrols, different from prior years when patrols were just sent out for eight hours to do an eight-hour shift, or when officers were sent on the beat to cover a particular area,” he points out.
To its credit, he says community policing has achieved much success in troubled areas where it has been implemented. “It has worked wonders in Red Hills Road Park Lane in the Corporate Area,” he says, highlighting one example of achievement.
Following problems in the community some time ago, the Deputy Superintendent says the Divisional Commander implemented a system there, where the community police officers went in, engaged the community, and developed a very good relationship with them. “Right now, it has been a success in that we have not had a flare-up there since, and the police and the community have a good relationship,” he says.
Mr. Heywood also cites Grants Pen and Payne Land in Kingston, as two other troubled communities where the community policing system has worked to the advantage of the police, in improving the relationship between law enforcement officers and the community members.
In Grants Pen, he says the JCF and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) were examining the possibility of establishing a multi-purpose police station, while in Payne Land, “a multi-faceted approach was implemented in 2003, where several government agencies and the police had gone in and implemented some form of community policing activities there, and right now, Payne Land is one of the less volatile areas in St. Andrew South as a result of that intervention”.
He emphasises that community policing is not “soft policing”, but a style of policing where courtesy, professionalism, and favoured customer service skills are being taught.
“Community policing is an aspect of the overall training and it runs in tandem with service and ethics,” he explains, noting that customer service training was introduced into the Force’s corporate strategy in 1998. Assessing the effectiveness of community policing on a widescale since its introduction, the Deputy Superintendent says the progress has been fair.
“I would give it a fair mark in terms of acceptance and practice. We have a far way to go, because there is still distrust out there in communities, which we need to change,” he says.
Furthermore, he adds that there are still members of the Force who believe in traditional policing, who need to be brought around to the new style of policing.
“It is going to take some time, but I am encouraged by a lot of the activities that the police are actually doing now.I hear a lot of senior officers talking about intelligence driven operations, risk assessment, problem solving and partnerships, which are the buzz words, so we can look forward to an improved service,” Mr. Heywood adds.

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