Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has again emphasised the importance of persons adhering to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.
Addressing the opening of the Private Security Regulation Authority’s (PSRA) Western Regional Office, at Bisco Mall, in Montego Bay, St. James, on August 14, the Minister said the society must recognise that the pandemic still poses a major risk to the society and the economy.
“We need to work to ensure that we can manage and control the effects, and ensure that all the protocols being put in place are observed,” the Minister said.
“Therefore, in that process we may be calling on security guards to do some more work in terms of what happens with the maintenance of the protocols, especially on the north coast [of the island] where we have opened the corridor, ” he added.
Dr. Chang said the Ministry is looking at expanding the role of security officers, as there are not enough in the sector.
“You do not necessarily train police officers to be everywhere monitoring who are wearing masks, and who are maintaining social distancing, and certainly we can begin to look at how we can engage elements of the security guards in the system to work with us to ensure that we maintain the protocols, because it is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19 until a cure, vaccine or both are found,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that the security service is an important component on the island, to which the Government has been paying keen attention.
“We have been investing in it [security service], both in the public and [private] sectors to ensure we have quality professionals, to ensure that the law is maintained [as well as] public safety, which provide the surest foundation for sustainable economic development,” the Minister said.
Dr. Chang also commended the PSRA for opening their new offices, noting that it is “a positive step.”
For his part, Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, said the opening signals a paradigm shift in the sector, as it will ensure that more security players in Western Jamaica are given access to certification without having to commute to Kingston.
The Mayor also challenged the operators of security companies to see the industry from a more professional standpoint and to take steps to ensure that the persons being recruited to join their companies are persons of with integrity.
The PSRA’s western regional office will be used to register security personnel as well as companies, and will monitor players in the private security industry to ensure that they are following regulations.
For his part, Executive Director of the PSRA, Rick Harris, said the new regional office will help to improve the reach of the organisation to members of the growing sector.
“Private security has grown rapidly, moving from just protection at banks and large places of business to being in schools, shopping centres, churches and private residences,” Mr. Harris noted.
“Private security is part of the very fabric of day to day life in Jamaica, and is expected at various locations and events. This has led to a rapid expansion of the industry,” he added.
He informed that as at December 2019, approximately 24,000 security personnel were registered with the PSRA.
The PSRA was created to monitor and regulate the private security industry. The organisation, which started in 1992, is a statutory body under the Ministry of National Security.