Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Warren Clarke, says the Ministry of National Security’s Project Rebuild, Overhaul and Construct (Project ROC) is providing a well-needed boost to the work of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Speaking with JIS News, ACP Clarke says that the undertaking, aimed at creating more modern, efficient, and functional police stations, will better enable the members of the force to serve the public.
“We have felt bolstered by Project ROC most of our facilities have been old and… needed a lot of maintenance and rehabilitation, and Project ROC has been instrumental in assisting in the rehabilitation and modernising of our facilities,” he says.
ACP Clarke reports that already there has been a noticeable lift in spirits among members operating at stations that have already benefited under the project.
“Members of the Force are more comfortable and citizens are now interacting with police officers that are in a better mind frame as they are much more comfortable, and so morale is automatically boosted,” he points out.
Project ROC is a part of the overall thrust by the Ministry to transform the security architecture that will see $5 billion being invested to improve the physical infrastructure, mobility, intelligence and technology of the JCF over the next few years.
The modernisation of more than 200 police stations across the island also includes the use of technology to enhance efficiency in operations.
ACP Clarke tells JIS News that very soon the station diary or “big book” that is utilised to collect information from citizens will become a thing of the past.
“Reports will be recorded into a computer solution that will facilitate access not only at a particular station, but islandwide, with the requisite security applications in place so that management and command will be able to access reports from just about any point of the island,” he notes.
Reception areas and interview rooms are also being equipped to better facilitate interviews with civilians, including witnesses and suspects.
“Much of the interview rooms had to be reconfigured into spaces that would support the briefing of witnesses as well as investigative examination and interrogation.
“This is supported by technology because there is an audiovisual component to support the recording of the depositions, or account for evidence presented to the courts,” ACP Clarke tells JIS News.
He says that the renovation of reception and interview spaces will improve customer service, facilitating a better relationship between law-enforcement officers and residents of the communities in which they operate.
Meanwhile, ACP Clarke says that members of communities already impacted by the Project ROC have lauded the initiative.
He notes, for example, that the rebuilding of the Shady Grove Police Station in Lluidas Vale, St. Catherine, has transformed the entire community.
The facility, which was officially opened in August 2019, also serves areas such as Pennington, Top Hill, Garden Hill, Lemon Hall, Tydixon, Juan-de Bolas, St. John, and Roaring River.
“When we opened the Shady Grove Police station and the community was invited in, they were pleased to see how the police were accommodated, because the new facility was markedly different from the ages-old one that existed before,” ACP Clarke tells JIS News.
“They are not only pleased with the services the police are providing, but the entire environment and space. The police facility assisted in modernising that square in Shady Grove, so the entire community is feeling much better about their public space, not only from a security point of view but also a social point of view,” he shares.
Wesley Thomas, who has lived in Shady Grove his entire life, tells JIS News that the rebuilding of the police station has had a positive impact on citizens’ relationship with members of the JCF.
“From I was a little boy, I have seen an old station, and now that I am in my 60s I see the new one along with an expansion of the staff complement. So now, when we have a problem and call the police they are responding much faster. Everyone appreciates the officers there and we can see an improvement in their service, because they are more responsive. They are patrolling more and we love that we see them more frequently,” he says.
Meanwhile, ACP Clarke says the motor vehicles that have been added to the fleet to replace older model units through Project ROC are crucial to the crime-fighting initiatives.
“The mobility of the force rests on transportation and our ability to move security assets from one point to another rapidly to treat situations of public order, violence or organised criminal activity. We are now treating the police vehicle as a specialised tool of policing as it is also equipped with technological solutions, so we are now able to give… access to a database to police officers who are travelling in their vehicles,” he notes.
Earlier this year, the National Security Ministry handed over 43 retrofitted compact sports utility vehicles valued at approximately $270 million to the JCF under its Project ROC.
Each unit is retrofitted with a mount for tablets with dash camera functionality, beacon (flashing) lights, siren and public address system, a high-intensity portable searchlight and a first responder’s kit.
Law-enforcement officers are now able to use technology to read licence plates and access real-time information about the ownership of a vehicle, among other things.