Against the background of rising crime in St. James, in general, and the city of Montego Bay, in particular, Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, and Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, met business and tourism stakeholders in the city on Thursday (May 6).
The meeting, described by Mr. Nelson as “a discourse between the government and the business community in St. James” to find common ground in the fight against crime and violence, was held at the Wexford Hotel, Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay.
It was also attended by Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Water and Housing, Hon Horace Chang, and Member of Parliament Clive Mullings, all representing St. James constituencies.
The closed door meeting lasted about two and a half hours and focused on how the Montego Bay community can partner with the Government, through the Police, to curb the crime problem in the parish.
Minister of Water and Housing, Hon Dr. Horace Chang (right); Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of Area one, Denver Frater (centre); and Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett (left) arrive at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay for security talks with Ministry of National Security representatives and business interest in Montego Bay on Thursday (May 6).
“We have enlisted and received the support of the business community to assist us in providing resources, that will first of all allow for increased police presence in Montego Bay and its environs; and secondly, address some of the social intervention programmes that we recognize will be necessary, if we are going to address some of the root causes of crime and violence in Montego Bay,” Mr. Nelson said in an interview following the meeting.
Two weeks ago, following a tour of some of the most volatile areas of Montego Bay, Mr. Nelson announced plans to establish a police post in proximity to those areas, and the placing of an additional 50 Police officers in the parish.
Coming out of today’s meeting, he announced that a resource committee has been established among the various interests attending the meeting, which will seek to source funding for some of the intended projects.
“That’s one of the firm commitments, because that is fundamental; if you do not have resources, then you cannot carry out the plans and programmes that you have,” he stated.
In outlining the various programmes in need of funding, he mentioned the retrofitting of the house identified for location of the new Police Post; an increase in the number of Policemen to be stationed in the parish; and technical needs of the Police in the parish.
According to Minister of Tourism, the Hon Edmund Bartlett, the Resource Committee should be in operation by the end of this week, with a view to holding its first meeting by sometime next week.
“We have given ourselves a four week period in which to secure the property that has been obtained (for use as a police post), and to do the refurbishing work that is necessary. So that within six weeks from now that command unit should be fully operational,” he said.
He expressed pleasure at the level of commitment from the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other members of the Montego Bay business community toward this effort. He mentioned that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will have a role to play.