The police will be putting 16 new sport utility vehicles (SUVs) into service across seven divisions in resort areas, immediately, following the handing over of the units by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to the Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, at his Old Hope Road offices, on May 7.
The Suzuki vehicles, which were purchased at a total cost of $32 million, will be deployed to Montego Bay, St. James (six); Ocho Rios, St. Ann (three); Negril, Westmoreland (two); Port Antonio, Portland (one); Falmouth, Trelawny (two); Runaway Bay, St. Ann (one); and Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth (one).
In his remarks, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, said the Ministry is pleased to partner with the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), as it seeks to make resort areas, and the country as a whole, safer. “I’m sure that these vehicles will go a far way in boosting the drive to reduce crime,” he said.
Dr. McNeill also used the opportunity to commend Commissioner Ellington and his team, for the ongoing work and the heartening downward trend in crime.
In extending his gratitude, the Police Commissioner said the Force recognises the tourism sector as a key partner in policing strategy, and understands the importance of having a safe, peaceful environment to enhance visitor experience. “We also appreciate the fact that mobility is crucial to us being able to sustain that environment,” he said.
Mr. Ellington noted that the JCF has made significant investment in visitor security, with a tourism liaison officer unit, and officers appointed in all resort areas across Jamaica.
“In the last two years, we have trained and deployed well over 100 men and women in the tourism sector for the sole purpose of protecting this vital industry,” he informed, pointing out that a clear example of the effectiveness of this was demonstrated in Falmouth, where the re-opened Cruise Ship pier, within its first year of operation, has won four international awards.
“Those awards did not come without significant contribution from law enforcement. Visitor disembarkation at the port of Falmouth is in the region of 80 per cent, which is higher than what obtains in other ports of call in Jamaica, and indeed in some other Caribbean destinations. This has not come without significant activities and efforts from the tourism industry (as well as) from first class law enforcement activity,” he asserted.
The Commissioner said the JCF wishes to “build out” its efforts by ensuring that there is adequate security on the roads to the attractions, and adequate police presence at the attractions. “So, the offer of vehicles from the Tourism enhancement Fund is really welcomed. This is going to make us far more effective and efficient than we have been in the past,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the TEF, Trevor Riley, said the Fund is mindful of its mandate to fund projects that promote the sustainable growth and development of the tourism sector, and that paramount to this is a safe environment for both citizens and visitors.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter