JIS News

Newly appointed Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, has said that he will adopt a consultative approach with the public, in leading the fight against crime and violence.
“I will be speaking directly to my fellow Jamaicans,” Senator Nelson said in his first national broadcast since assuming the portfolio, aired Sunday night (May 10).
“I will embark on a series of public consultations islandwide, accompanied and supported on these visits by the Commissioner of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff and a technical team from my Ministry led by the Permanent Secretary,” he stated.
“I will be visiting all the communities where crime and violence has become a feature of their existence. These consultations will provide me with a unique opportunity for direct dialogue, during which I will be able to listen to the views of the people, evaluate their recommendations and take on board those elements which can be incorporated in our crime fighting strategies,” he added.
Senator Nelson said that the new Civic Centre in crime ridden Montego Bay St. James has been chosen as the venue for the first consultation, scheduled for Thursday, May 28.
Earlier in his broadcast, Senator Nelson also addressed a number of other issues related to national security, including: the strategic review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); the role of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) in the fight against crime and violence; recruitment and training of additional police; community partnerships; and the introduction of a national identification system to support crime fighting.
Senator Nelson said that his mission would only succeed if law abiding citizens come on board and play a part in the search for solutions and, to this end, every effort will be made to educate and mobilise citizens.
“I truly believe that residents, in many of the critical communities across the island, will be more enthusiastic about a partnership with the police, when the state and civil society demonstrate a meaningful response to their material needs,” the Minister said.
He noted that an additional US$15 million is being sought from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to assist in extending the social intervention project, Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which along with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and the Community Security Initiative (CSI), help the police with efforts to improve social and economic conditions in deprived communities.
Under the CSJP, nearly $1 billion has been budgeted to help prevent and reduce violence in these communities, strengthen the crime management capabilities and improve the delivery of judicial services.
He said that high on the list of objectives, under the strategic review of the JCF, which he will uphold, is continuing the acquisition and deployment of modern and sophisticated technology.
The Forensic Science Laboratory has acquired state of the art equipment to assist in DNA analyses; a freezer mill will soon be acquired for grinding bones and teeth for extraction; and work stations are to be acquired for sterile work areas.
He said that, once the validation exercise is completed, the DNA unit at the laboratory will become one of the best equipped and most modern in the hemisphere, and the next step would be to clear the backlog.
The JDF will continue to play a critical role in the nation’s security, bringing operational intelligence and other special skills to security operations carried out in partnership with the police, and in response to any increased level of threat to national security, he assured.
He noted that the ratio of one police to every 274 citizens is one of the lowest in the world, making it imperative to increase the numerical strength of the JCF.
Senator Nelson said that focus will be placed on employing civilians in administrative posts and exploring the establishment of a police reserve, comprising private citizens.
The JCF is also considering the acquisition of Tranquility Bay in St. Elizabeth for the training of 200 recruits, annually. Incentives will be in place to encourage the police to take advantage of specialised training, and educational advancement, available from tertiary institutions.
The Ministry of National Security will strengthen its accountability mechanism to properly monitor the performance of law enforcement agencies, and hold civil servants to account for the use of public resources.
Senator Nelson said that mobility of the force was another of his immediate concerns and, following up on the $800 million spent on acquiring some 200 vehicles last year, an additional $630 million will be spent this year.
He said that the National Identification System will be pursued rigorously to provide the security forces with another critical tool for law enforcement. Some $70 million have been provided in the budget for preliminary work this year.
“It is for these reasons that the success of any national initiative for the enforcement of the rule of law, must begin with the understanding and co-operation of citizens in their respective communities,” Senator Nelson said.

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