I deeply appreciate your invitation to join you today in commemorating the members of staff who have been recipients of National Honours and Awards.
As you are no doubt aware, I am currently just getting my feet wet on the job. But although I am new to the Ministry, I am not new to the portfolio. People have referred to me in the past as among the longest serving shadow Ministers in this portfolio.
I am not ashamed of that record, if that is what it is; because it has prepared me effectively for what I believe is the most daunting job facing this government – that of bringing crime and violence under control and restoring law and order and general discipline within the society.
I am not intimidated by the challenge; nor am I scared of failure. But, I can only serve in terms of ensuring that the government’s policy is implemented and strictly adhered to.
In order to achieve success, I will have to depend on the courage, loyalty and dedication of every one of you.
Therefore, I feel especially elated to be here today with the finest and the bravest within your ranks.
Those whose service have been above the normal so much so that the nation has seen it fit to reward them either for long service or for good conduct.
I know many people see the Correctional Services as being of somewhat less importance than the other departments and agencies within the security portfolio. I do not.
The Correctional Services is just as much an arm of our security forces as the police or the military. And it is a critical link within the chain of the criminal justice system.
You may not be on the streets hunting gunmen or cornering rapists, but when they are caught and have exhausted their cases in the criminal courts, you have the equally challenging job of securing society from them.
My task here this afternoon is to bring you greetings on behalf of my Ministry. Therefore, I will not detain you with an exhaustive speech. There will be many other occasions for that.
I just want to thank these 44 persons who are being honoured for the contribution they have made to the system. I hope that their achievements and the National Honour they have earned in the process, will encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
I look forward to working with the Correctional Services on a very profound basis, because there are a number of things that we will wish to change, or to improve, or to speed up.
Whatever it is, I hope that I can rely on your support and your loyalty.
In this regard, I want to specifically introduce to you Senator Arthur Williams, Minister of State in the Ministry. I have asked him to work closely with Major Reese and with you and to report to me to ensure that your issues and interests receive on-going attention.
Always bear in mind that when it comes to the security and general wellbeing of this nation, there should be no divisions – whether in terms of class, race or political affiliation.
The battle to secure our country is a challenge for well-thinking Jamaicans of all persuasions.
So thanks once again for inviting me here today. I will always remember it as being among my very first assignments, and I will always be grateful for your support and solidarity.I thank you.

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