Attendees at this year’s Grand Gala, celebrating Jamaica’s 61st year of independence, will be treated to the spectacular musical offerings of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Band (JCF Band). Performing as part of a combined band alongside the Jamaica Defence and Jamaica Combined Cadet Force’s bands, they will officially open the celebration under the theme “Jamaica 61: Proud and Strong.”
The JCF Band, established sixty-five years ago at the Elletson Road Barracks, consists of police personnel with a deep love for music and expertise in the field. The band’s core function is to provide entertainment for Jamaicans through music for ceremonial displays, parades, and JCF graduation ceremonies at the National Police College of Jamaica. As an arm of the Force’s Community Safety and Security Branch, the JCF Band is also a vehicle for building strong police/community relationships. Outside of these core duties, band members also lend operational support to various divisions in their capacity as trained police men and police women.
Retired Inspector Oswald Scott, a founding member of the JCF Band, recalls its early stages as a robust military band, open to all police constables interested in the program. “Before the band started, we were just a core of drums. It was later disbanded, and a full-fledged band was created by the then Commissioner of Police, Colonel Reginald Michelin, who was impressed by the Barbados Military Band when he served as Commissioner in that country,” he explained. At that time, the music was predominantly military band compositions, arranged for instruments such as flutes, clarinets, saxophones, French horns, and percussion.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Doran McCarthy, who currently heads the Band Division, details the unit’s transformation. Although the band still maintains its military base and traditional instruments, it has evolved with the introduction of electronic instruments such as keyboards and guitars, expanding the types of music performed.
In addition to ceremonial and official duties, the band is heavily engaged in the community, providing music for concerts, weddings, church functions, and more. Deputy Superintendent McCarthy highlights the division’s participation in the recently concluded Domestic Violence Intervention campaign and other outreach programs such as homework assistance, police youth club events, and summer camps. The band’s annual summer music camp targets at-risk youth in inner-city communities, introducing them to music in the hope of steering them away from deviant behaviour.
Lead Music Theory Instructor in the Band Division, Sergeant Andrew Comrie, describes this project as an opportunity for children to engage with experienced musicians and various musical instruments, reducing the likelihood of criminal involvement.
The JCF Band continues to welcome serving members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force interested in joining this skilled ensemble, reflecting the vibrant tradition and ongoing innovation that has marked its six-and-a-half decades of existence. As Jamaica celebrates its rich heritage, the JCF Band stands as a symbol of unity, culture, and community engagement.