MONTEGO BAY — In its drive to improve the safety and security of citizens in western Jamaica, the Ministry of National Security has reopened the renovated former police facility at 14 Barnett Street, Montego Bay, St. James, to serve as the Region One headquarters of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF).
The facility, which was destroyed by fire several years ago and abandoned for the new police station in the Montego Freeport area, was renovated at a cost of approximately $5.3 million.
Speaking at the official reopening on Friday (May 20), Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Diane McIntosh, noted that the ministry wholeheartedly embraced the steps taken to open an ISCF regional headquarters in Montego Bay. She saw this as an indication of the level of policy support for the strategic operations of the Area One policing area. Area One includes Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
“We are also cognizant of the fact that we are responsible, as a ministry, for assisting the force to meet its strategic goals, in particular the one that speaks to building and strengthening the human resource capacity of its members, and developing and maintaining the wellbeing and welfare of those members,” she stated.
She said that the establishment of the ISCF headquarters in Montego Bay was a step in the right direction.
“Indeed it is a step in the right direction for this region to finally have its ISCF headquarters, complete with a special squad and a competent Assistant Commandant. It also serves to reinforce the ministry’s commitment to the maintenance of law and order,” she added.
She said that the ministry and the JCF were of the same view, with respect to placing major emphasis on the maintenance of a strong policing presence in major towns, especially resort areas.
Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Area One, Denver Frater, noted that the Barnett Street facility was not only at a strategic location, but was also a landmark reflecting a sense of safety and security within the city.
“The region one (ISCF) team, under the leadership of Assistant Commandant Green-Francis, will now be able to respond in a more decisive and timely manner, in supporting the Jamaica Constabulary Force in achieving our strategic priorities,” he stated.
He said that while there has been a 50 per cent reduction in murders in the St. James Police division, there are still areas of concern, with respect to the control of crime and violence in the parish.
He argued that with the operational capabilities of the newly established facility, it is his hope that, in a short time, it will be upgraded to become the home of a St. James Street Crime Unit.
By BRYAN MILLER, JIS Reporter