National Security Minister, Robert Montague, has announced a raft of measures to combat crime and violence and to improve the effectiveness of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for 2017.
Speaking at the JCF’s annual devotional exercise at the Police Commissioner’s Office recently, Montague said that among the measures will be the splitting of the St. James Police Division “to bring to bear more resources on the problems in St James.” He further announced the arrival of two naval ships on January 21 from the Netherlands for the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) Coast Guard, to patrol the seas in order to secure the nation’s borders. A surveillance plane will also arrive later this year, which will provide additional protection and security to Jamaica’s borders to prevent the trafficking of illegal guns and ammunition.
Meanwhile, Montague noted that 40 rank-and-file members of the JCF will be travelling to Cuba for training with dogs that have been acquired. The Minister pointed out that 200 more vehicles will be added to the JCF fleet in order to enable every police station to respond appropriately to various occurrences. “We’re going to be expanding the closed-circuit television (CCTV) network. We have four towns with CCTV cameras and we’ll be expanding this into New Kingston,” the Minister said.
“Private persons with CCTV will also be able to send their footage to the police. We’re going to do facial recognition, geo-fencing and license-plate reading. We’re going to be investing heavily in the intelligence network to lead the operations of the Force,” Montague continued.
Regarding legislation, he noted that several changes were coming to the Bail, Firearm, and Fingerprint Acts. “The Firearm Act is special to me. The message must be clearly sent that when you take up a gun, you are going to spend a long time behind bars,” he emphasized. Attention is also to be given to praedial larceny, and motorcyclists’ helmets will be required to bear a registration number.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant, said the members of the JCF must value themselves and the service they give. She encouraged them to partner with citizens to rid the country of crime and violence.
In his New Year’s message to the nation, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the government is prepared to use the full force of the law to address the crime problem, as it is the greatest threat to the country’s economic independence. He urged persons to report crimes, noting that “information is the best weapon against criminals.”