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JIS News

Police officers are being pelted with wooden chips, water bombed and subjected to continuous verbal abuse. Shouts of ‘babylon’ and ‘we want justice’ permeate the air. The crowd advances. The police remain calm but take evasive action, while trying to bring the situation back under control. No, this is not a hostile encounter between residents and members of the police force. It is a simulated demonstration designed to enhance the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s ability to manage a ‘critical incident’.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Staff College in Twickenham Park recently concluded the training of middle and senior management police officers in a Critical Incident Command Course. The simulated demonstration was an important part of the implementation of lessons learnt in the course of study.
This initiative is also designed to effectively train police officers in strategic command and is preparing security sector agencies for Cricket World Cup 2007.
Administrative Director of the JCF Staff College, Senior Superintendent Dormah Harrison is credited with initiating this overseas collaboration. Contact with the Bramshill Police Staff College in the United Kingdom, resulted in the dispatch of Superintendent Stuart Twigg from the International Faculty, and Detective Chief Inspector Allan Thomas, to the local police staff college, for two intense weeks of instruction.
The day of the simulation exercise begins with a briefing session for the police officers. They go through strategies, tactical plans and contingency measures.
The locale in which they will control the protesting assembly is studied, and officers familiarize themselves with a map of the area. Final reminders are given and the cops leave the session armed with the necessary paraphernalia, including hand radios and back-up cell phones.
The cause of the arranged confrontation? An ‘accident’ in which a two-year-old succumbed to injuries after being hit by a police service vehicle.
It is later explained to JIS News that a critical incident occurs when the situation has the potential to be explosive, as well as incidents with a high-risk profile, such as organized gun and drug crimes, and those involving violent gang warfare.
If a critical incident occurs, three key persons with distinct roles will be deployed to effectively manage the situation.
Deputy Superintendent of the St. Andrew Division, Anthony Castelle participated in the exercise and provides insight into the different levels of authority within the newly taught programme.
The bronze commander, he explains, has direct contact with the crowd, the silver commander on the other hand, deploys the resources and is concerned with a more tactical approach. The gold commander strategically commands both teams and is absent from the scene.
But back to the confrontation – as the intensity of the situation increases, the mobile reserves are brought out, protected by transparent shields, which form a wall in front of the officers, and a wall above their heads. Officers advance in an unbroken line in this segment of the exercise.
And finally, the ‘big guns’. At this stage, the Crowd Control Response Unit (CCRU) is introduced to the scene. This unit is a multi-faceted truck equipped with a camera, horizontal blade for clearing debris, and water cannon. It is only used when the situation escalates into an incident, which can no longer be handled by police officers on the ground.
In his assessment of the exercise, Superintendent Twigg says he was pleased with the proceedings. “The officers here have implemented what we have taught them over the past three days and have dealt proportionately with the initial situation presented to them,” he explains. The Superintendent assures the public that at the end of the sessions, the trained police officers are assessed in order to note their strengths and weaknesses.
This is the second visit made by the Bramshill Police Staff College to Jamaica, and a select group of officers who have been trained in the first training exercise, which took place earlier this year, will themselves become trainers of other officers in the force.
In closing, Deputy Superintendent Anthony Castelle emphasises, that the programme is not rank specific but role specific. Therefore police officers are not appointed on the basis of their position, but rather, on the ability to complete the task.
The Bramshill Police Staff College is among the best in United Kingdom and has been certifying police officers in the Commonwealth for years.