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The roll out of a dedicated community policing initiative in 38 selected communities across the island’s 19 police divisions is expected to begin by month-end.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), John McLean, who heads the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), made the announcement at a recent press conference at the Police Officers Club in Kingston. He noted that the initiative is at the directive of Police Commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, and two communities in each division will be selected for phase one of the programme, with an incremental increase of at least 38 additional communities each successive year, as resources permit.
“Each of these communities will be assigned trained, dedicated community policing officers, who will see to the adherence of law and order in these communities while providing a visible, reassuring and problem-solving approach to policing,” he explained.
“The way forward is to make us move from a responsive and investigative style of policing to one which is more proactive and preventative,” the Community Security and Safety Chief noted.
According to ACP McLean, the month end roll out of the programme will see more than 200 officers directly engaged in the communities, and they will be supported by colleagues from the division or specialist departments where urgent response-policing is required, or serious crimes occur.
According to the Assistant Commissioner, every police officer has a responsibility for the way in which he/she interacts with and delivers policing services to the public.
“We do not want the good work done by dedicated community police officers to be undone by others. Also, it is important that people who live in an area without dedicated community officers do not receive a lesser service, so every member of the JCF will undergo further training in community-based policing,” he stated. He said that training material has been developed and an extensive training programme aimed at citizens, police managers, partners and police officers on the ground, has already commenced.
ACP McLean explained that community policing is a problem-solving approach, “which looks beyond the individual instance and crimes, to understand the nature and causes of problems and tackle them in a comprehensive way to find long-term solutions.”
He noted that while “community policing will not cure all the ills of Jamaica, but it can help to create the atmosphere with communities that have proven to be troubled in the past so they can be transformed”. He also noted that the merging of the Community Relations and Community Safety and Security Branch will help to ensure that the focus of all aspects of community safety and community policing is intensified.