Residents of Mount Salem in St. James have welcomed the construction of a new police station, now underway in the community.
The new Mount Salem Police Station is being built by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $45 million, with funding from the European Union (EU).
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, officially broke ground for the project on November 27.
The facility is being constructed under the build phase of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO), now in place in the community.
The new police station will benefit some 9,050 residents in Mount Salem as well as persons in surrounding communities.
Mount Salem was declared the first ZOSO on the island on September 1, 2017, in response to an upsurge in crime.
A resident, Frank Brown, told JIS News that the new station is greatly needed, noting that “it will be good for the community”.
He pointed out that the existing building had deteriorated to the extent where it posed a potential threat to the police officers stationed there as well as the citizens accessing the facility.
“So definitely [the new police station] is a good move,” Mr. Brown added.
Another resident, Kadianne Kerr, said she also was pleased to see a new station being erected.
“I am happy because, to be honest, we were worried about what would take place after the Zone of Special Operation (ZOSO) initiative [has] left the community, because it has done a lot for the [area],” she noted.
Ms. Kerr pointed out that consequent on the ZOSO’s introduction, “a lot of persons’ mindset has changed”.
“I think that is the most important thing that came out of the ZOSO, as well as the infrastructural work that took place and the training for young persons in the community,” she said.
Ms. Kerr is optimistic that the new police station will contribute to ensuring that the progress made under the ZOSO remains intact.
She said the initiative also served to “humanise” citizens in Mount Salem, as the police presence not only curtailed crime and violence, but helped to improve the community’s image.
“Mount Salem has some very decent, hard-working people and the ZOSO helped to make others [outside the community] see that not all who reside here are so-called criminals… and I am happy for that,” Ms. Kerr emphasised.
She added that in years gone by, residents felt abandoned; but over the last four to five years, notable improvements have taken place in the community.
“We have never seen this before [where] the roads are fixed; we are the envy of a lot of communities. Persons from other areas who visit the community marvel at how good our roads are, and we give thanks for that. The benefits that Mount Salem has been receiving are also spilling over in neighbouring communities,” she said.
“So big up to JSIF and big up Mr. Holness, because things are happening in Mount Salem and it is long overdue,” Ms. Kerr stated.
Another resident, Sabrina Green, told JIS News that “the idea of the new police station is very good”.
“I guess this means we will have more police officers here, which means more protection in the community of Mount Salem. I also think that the old police station was in a deplorable condition, so it had to go [and] I am happy for that,” she added.