Major Boost for JCF’s Breathalyzer Programme


The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) breathalyzer programme has received a major boost, with the commissioning into service of 20 new state-of-the-art breathalyzer equipment by Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith on (Dec. 20).
The equipment, purchased at a cost of $US 230,000.00 will be handed over to some 17 police divisions in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Manchester, Westmoreland, Hanover, Montego Bay, St. Ann, Portland and St. Thomas. Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at the JCF’s Traffic Division headquarters on Lower Elletson Road in Kingston, Minister Smith said the new machines will help law enforcement officers to carry out their duties more effectively and reduce the incidences of drunk driving on the nation’s roadways.
He pledged to ensure that more machines are purchased in the new financial year.
In the meantime, Minister Smith said that while there has been some level of reduction in the number of motor vehicle accidents, there is need for further reduction. “We are heading in the right direction. Things are improving although it is not at the level we are comfortable with and it is not at the level we are satisfied with. We are still having some 13,000 persons affected annually by motor vehicle accidents, which would average out at about 35 a day,” he stated.
The Minister cited the failure of passengers to wear seat belts, speeding and the overloading of vehicles, as major causes of road accidents. As such, Mr. Smith appealed to the members of the JCF to be vigilant in enforcing safety regulations.
He further urged drivers, especially operators of public passenger vehicles, not to overload their cars. “What you are doing is wrong. You are endangering your life and the lives of innocent persons. What happens when we have these crashes on our streets is that we lose scores of lives out of recklessness and carelessness,” the Minister pointed out.Commenting on the impact of road fatalities on the economy, the Minister pointed out that road accidents create a severe strain on the health sector, with costs estimated at some $2 billion. This sum, he pointed out, could be used in other critical areas. Head of the Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Elan Powell, said the new breathalyzer machines are a significant improvement over the previous equipment.
“One of the problems with those machines is they were not well suited for the climatic conditions.there has been advancement in technology so we are now getting the most modern equipment. They are pretty useful,” he stated.
He noted further that the new machines are portable. “You can put in on the backseat of a car. and conduct your tests, the others you had to depend on having an office. There is no such requirement here.”
The JCF’s breathalyzer programme, which was instituted a few years ago, has been almost inactive due to the need for proper equipment. Only 20 of 200 instruments acquired by the JCF at the inception of the programme were functional and the majority of the non-functional instruments have been at the Bureau of Standards for a considerable period and the Bureau has not been able to restore them to proper working order.

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