Finding the solution to any problem is unravelling and genuinely understanding the concerns of the people who are affected the most. The populaces are those who are directly and indirectly impacted.
On February 9, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson along with Area Commander Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers and Senior Superintendent of Police Vernon Ellis, Commanding Officer for St. James held a Town Hall meeting at the Montego Bay Civic Centre in the parish.
Engaging the public is paramount to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and falls within one of the strategic priorities ‘Stakeholder Engagement’.This Town Hall facilitated honest and unfiltered feedback from community members and various stakeholders including His Worship The Mayor, Councillor Leeroy Williams, Mr Oral Heaven, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Representatives from the National & St. James Neighbourhood Watch as well as other members of the public and JCF.
Major General set the tone of the Town Hall meeting by updating members of the St. James community about the progress of the JCF to include the modern technology that will be used as resources to better serve the community and create safer spaces.
These hand-held technological devices including the Smart Check (E-ticketing) and decibel meter device were on display and persons were given the opportunity to participate in live demonstrations to understand how exactly these resources work.
Commissioner Anderson used the opportunity to express, that with the new resources and the support of the people, there is much to be achieved and that is the basis of his optimism as it relates to the success of the JCF to create a safer community. He says, “When the bond between the law-abiding people and the police is strong there is no space for criminality.”
Milton Campbell, author of ‘Choice, Chance, Change’ and a former convict, posed a question to the Commissioner regarding how persons who have been convicted can be reintegrated into society. Commissioner responded, “It starts with understanding… there are people who take wrong turns that can go back on the right path and stay on that path…”
He assured Mr Campbell that the JCF Partners with several Non-Governmental Organizations that develop programmes, he mentioned that there are several business persons, especially in Montego Bay who are willing to assist these individuals. Campbell expressed that he is very proud of what the Commissioner is doing and states that he supports the Commissioner’s stance to target the younger generation and positively shape their minds.
Another community member commended the police for taking on the tasks of many other agencies in the execution of their duties, whether it be assisting to deliver homework during the Covid-19 lockdown or playing football with the youth in the street. This sentiment was supported by Detective Constable Ronald Bowen who works closely with the Community Safety and Security Branch of the JCF in Montego Bay. Bowen expressed his gratitude to his senior officers and the Commissioner for focusing on schools and the challenges students face.
Major General Anderson added to the dialogue by sharing that implementing School Resource Officers in the schools and Police Youth Clubs facilitates mentorship and access to other resources and that the JCF is making a contribution to preventing a problem that can surface in the future as it relates to young people. His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Leeroy Williams in giving a comment made reference to ‘Operation Restore Paradise’ as a success. He said, “As a municipal corporation we have rules and regulations that govern a particular space… persons seen vending on St. James street for example are more than likely to be prosecuted because it is a no vending zone.”
He continued, “You cannot run a city that is in a disorderly state… so we realized that it must be a collaborative effort…” The Mayor expressed that he has felt the support of the police in restoring public order in St. James and credits the vast improvement of the state of the town to the law enforcers. He commended the officers and the high command and pledged consistent partnership in order to get the work done.
The Town Hall ended on a high, and people left feeling inspired and pledged their support in doing their part to contributing not only to the Force for Good but to creating safer communities and by extension a safer Jamaica.