Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington is suggesting that issues related to public vending, night commerce, and night entertainment be urgently addressed under a special safety and security project.
The two-year project dubbed: ‘Enhancing Civil Society Participation in Local Governance for Community Safety’ is being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Speaking at a parish safety and security workshop hosted by the Ministry on Wednesday (May 9) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, Mr. Ellington cited the need to facilitate persons engaging in vending and night commerce.
He stated that currently, the relationship between law enforcement, the local authorities, and those who engage in these activities is antagonistic, “appearing as if it is something that is not supported by the local authorities or the police”.
“I think we should move quickly to create an accommodation in what we do, so that those among our population, who eke out a living from vending activities of whatever sort, or in night commerce, can find space in the operating environment,” the Commissioner stated.
As it relates to night entertainment and recreation, he said these activities are posing a “huge challenge” for law enforcement.
“When you look at the profile of individuals who, have been murdered in Jamaica since the start of the year up to the end of April, well over 150…about two-thirds of those killed …were killed outdoors. Many of those persons were killed in places where they were actually, recreating with individuals that they know very little about… individuals who may be the target of criminal violence,” he pointed out.
Mr. Ellington contended that if properly structured facilities are put in place with the appropriate provisions, “(the police) could then assure the safety and security of our citizens as they recreate with each others in public spaces”.
Commissioner Ellington also pointed to the need to address public transport, in terms of managing transit service, the state of roads, the kinds of motor vehicles used, and the persons “entrusted with the lives and safety of our citizens”.
He further urged deliberations on the manner in which public infrastructure is developed and maintained, citing this as important in enhancing safety and security, as well as the operational efficiencies of the country’s cities and towns.
“Just imagine how much relief would be brought…if we could have greater collaboration, in terms of how we build and maintain public infrastructure and also include the other features such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems, which could give the police a clearer view of what is happening out there, so that we can do much better deployment for safety and security,” Mr. Ellington said.
The project seeks to develop sustainable long-term strategies to improve partnerships between civil society, local authorities, and central state agencies to prevent and mitigate the effects of crime and violence through, among other things, the setting up of Parish Safety and Security Committees (PSSCs).
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter