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Story Highlights

  • US$108,000 resource centre, which will improve community safety and security, while facilitating skills training and income generation.
  • Ground was broken on May 5 for the Gregory Park Community Resource Centre (CRC), the first of 25 to be established in targeted communities across the island under phase II of the Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET II).
  • The initiative is being undertaken by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Government.

US$108,000 resource centre, which will improve community safety and security, while facilitating skills training and income generation.

Ground was broken on May 5 for the Gregory Park Community Resource Centre (CRC), the first of 25 to be established in targeted communities across the island under phase II of the Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET II).

The initiative is being undertaken by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Government.

Communities in Kingston, St. Andrew, Clarendon and St. James will benefit from similar facilities, which will also provide training in conflict resolution, parenting and life skills; and strengthen the capacity of community-based groups.

In welcoming the initiative, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said he is pleased that the resource centres will provide space for a police post.

This, he said, means that the police “will not be set apart from the community but will instead, be part of the community and engaged with not just policing activities, but all the social activities that I expect will revolve around the resource centre.

He pointed out that COMET II works very closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and in particular, the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) to support the police youth clubs and the national neighbourhood watch movement.

The programme also works with the CSSB to update the community-based policing training manual, and to reduce corruption by supporting the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) in its outreach efforts.

“We see COMET as a very important partner with the Ministry of National Security and with the Government more broadly, in forging this partnership, which I’m convinced, in the long run, is the only way we are going to get sustained success against violent crimes,” he said.

In his remarks, State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said the resource centre will be strategically located to serve all the areas in Gregory Park.

“I think that this is an important initiative that will serve the community well, and as Member of Parliament, it is my intent to continue to work with you to ensure that this community resource centre delivers the services that it is being commissioned to do,” he said.

USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and Caribbean, Sarah-Ann Lynch, said the ground breaking signals the building of “new, stronger and more positive relationships within the community and with your neighbours, the Social Development Commission (SDC), and the JCF.”

She gave the USAID’s commitment to promoting community-driven change, by assisting in improving the communication and interactions between citizens and the police, through COMET II.

The community centres to be established will include offices for Community Development Committees (CDC)/Community-based Organisations (CBO), community-based policing, and a civic space for business enterprise activities.

They will also be outfitted with water catchment facilities, solar panels, environmentally safe water disposal, and disaster-risk reduction equipment.

The Gregory Park centre is expected to be completed by the end of June this year.

COMET II seeks to build safer communities through strengthening community and civil society organisations, increasing citizen co-operation and accountability, strengthening juvenile justice and at-risk youth programmes, and improving community policing practices.

One of the core objectives of the project is to promote community-driven activities to contribute to crime prevention, by addressing the underlying causes of crime and  improving communications and interactions between the citizenry and police.