- Residents of Tredegar Park and Gravel Heights have attributed an apparent reduction in criminal activity in that area to intense community policing efforts.
- JIS visited the police post that serves the once volatile communities to see, first-hand, how programme works.
- After four years of consistent community policing, the dedicated police men and women have established and maintained a fruitful and cooperative relationship with the residents.
Residents of Tredegar Park and Gravel Heights have attributed an apparent reduction in criminal activity in that area to intense community policing efforts introduced by the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) of the St. Catherine North Police Division.
JIS visited the police post that serves the once volatile communities to see, first-hand, how programme works.
At that time, Deputy Superintendent of Police and Territorial Officer in charge of Community Safety and Security, Herold Newton was just receiving a report from the last constable on duty, Constable Neco Walters, about the events of the previous shift.
Constable Walters reported: “Commenced duty at 8:00 a.m. and nothing unusual has been reported or observed.”
DSP Newton has been receiving similar reports since 2010, when a police base was established on the border of both communities, following a series of heinous gang related murders in the area.
“People started moving out right through the week. This place was like a ghost town; but the police changed all of that,” one resident told JIS News after recounting the spate of murders that claimed the lives of several women and children.
“Since criminals heard that the police are based in the communities, they no longer come around; they seem to have disappeared…everybody is living peacefully now. People walk at nights. We sleep very well, even with our doors open,” the resident explained.
Another resident was happy to share that since the police post has been in place, there is only one house in the community that remains unoccupied, and this is due to a severely damaged roof.
After four years of consistent community policing, the dedicated police men and women have established and maintained a fruitful and cooperative relationship with the residents.
“You cannot transfer some of the officers you have here…we even want to give them houses in our community. My house is opened even at three in the morning, because I have tight security, twenty-four seven,” another resident tells DSP Newton laughingly.
Constable Richard Brown, who has been working in the community since 2010, reiterates that there has been “no murder, reported or observed”.
However, the strong community-police relationship did not happen overnight. The officers of the North Police Division toiled tirelessly to break down cultural barriers, and even had to bull-doze hilly terrain to construct roadways to facilitate access to the Gravel Heights community.
“There were no roads and that is what gave the hoodlums an advantage in this community, as they could monitor the activities of the entire area. Since we constructed roadways and have a post, persons have moved back into the community and others are building their homes,” DSP Newton highlighted.
He points out that the CSSB works in both communities, to stabilise, re-socialise and reorganise the residents in several different ways, as well as to assist them to live comfortably and feel safe in their environment.
“Hoodlums have moved out of the area and we are now in the community to educate the residents about how they can continue to keep them out. Boys from different sides of the fence have been playing football together, the Police Youth Club is very vibrant and a neighbourhood watch is our next project for the community,” DSP Newton shares.
Having fought crime and successfully restored peace in the communities of Tredegar Park and Gravel Heights, the St. Catherine North Police Division was recently recognised by the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ), through the Ministry of National Security, has intensified their community policing efforts islandwide through the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).