The new Mount Salem Police Station in St. James was officially opened by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on July 14.
The project, which was funded by the European Union (EU) at a cost of $ 47.6 million, was undertaken by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), under its Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).
Construction was undertaken as part of the build phase of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO), now in place in the community.
It was also done as part of the Ministry of National Security’s Rebuild, Overhaul and Construct (ROC) project, which involves the rebuilding, renovating and retrofitting of police facilities across the island
In his address, the Prime Minister said that the project being completed in such a short space of time is something to celebrate, as the prompt completion of government projects is uncommon.
He also noted that the funding provided to support the project from the EU was “wisely spent and efficiently used”.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the Government took a decision to improve the conditions under which members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) serve the public, “hence this massive investment in the upgrade of police stations, not just rehabilitation but totally rebuilding [them]”.
“We know that we must invest in the police, in their working conditions, and let’s face it, when the police officers come to the station and the facilities are poor, it has an impact on them when they go to serve the public. When the public comes to their facility and see it in a deplorable state, immediately it sends a message that there is no respect for the authority of enforcement,” Mr. Holness added.
He pointed out that the Government has been “consistent, strategic and patiently investing in the security forces”.
“We will get the criticisms, they will pick on us every day; it is our job to be picked on, but I am certain that we will stay the course to see the benefits of making these long-term investments, which may not have the short-term results,” Mr. Holness argued.
The Prime Minister said that the police station being in proximity to the ZOSO in the community is a strategic move.
“Of course, the station was always here, but we decided that as part of our crime-fighting strategy, in addition to the short-term operational intervention that will bring the murder rate down in the area, we will make some long-term investments… this is one of them,” Mr. Holness said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister highlighted that since the implementation of the ZOSO in the community some four years ago, the area has significantly improved.
“Mount Salem is a different place, and the people of Mount Salem know this, they appreciate this and they understand what the Government is doing,” he said.
For his part, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, noted that the new police station further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to transforming not only communities but the police force, which ensures that communities have safety and peace.
In his remarks, Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, outlined that the speed at which the station was completed, suggests “a certain momentum that we are bringing to this whole business of [the] development, transformation and modernisation of the police force”.
“There is no way we can get that kind of momentum alone, it is really the partnerships with the EU, JSIF, and at other sites, the National Housing Trust [NHT], our own project management and maintenance division and just [the] focused attention of people to get these things built and work done,” he said.
For her part, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Her Excellency, Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, said she is impressed that the project was completed in such a short time.
She pointed out that the EU’s contribution to the project is evidence of the group’s continued support of Jamaica in the achievement of its goals.
The Ambassador said that implementing the project as part of the PRP, in partnership with JSIF, was a “good idea”.
“With JSIF, we have been able to identify and address the real needs of the communities. Not only [with] JSIF, but also various ministries, such as the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Health [and Wellness], the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and civil society organizations,” she said.
“They have played an essential role leading to what we wanted to achieve with the PRP, notably tailor-made interventions, the empowerment of community members, the upliftment of entire communities and to build stronger ties between vulnerable communities and the government agencies serving them,” the Ambassador added.
Chairman of JSIF, Dr. Wayne Henry, expressed gratitude to the EU for its support in the PRP and Community Renewal Programme (CRP), which was developed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
The police station, for which ground was broken in November of last year, now boasts an entry court and reception area, a guardroom, resource room, exhibit room, holding area, two interview rooms, three offices, two restrooms, one kitchen, one storage area and a parking area.
The new police station will benefit some 22,000 residents in and around Mount Salem.