Document outlines cops' vehicle woes
More than 32 per cent of the vehicles in the fleet of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are out of use and another 28.7 per cent of police vehicles are more than 11 years old, a document tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday has revealed.
"The responsiveness of the JCF is severely restricted, owing to the deterioration of its motor-vehicle fleet," the ministry paper stated, while adding that "the acquisition of the vehicles is necessary to enhance the operational and service-delivery activities of the JCF, and to assist in the fight against crime".
Cabinet has approved the award of two contracts totalling about $335.15 million to purchase vehicles for the police force. The vehicles to be purchased include 47 Toyota Corolla patrol cars; 27 Toyota Hilux pickups; four Toyota Rav4 sport utility vehicles; one Toyota Coaster bus; and two Toyota Hiace 15-seater buses.
The vehicles will be purchased from Toyota Jamaica Limited at a cost of $273.2 million.
Additionally, $81.9 million is to be spent acquiring five Isuzu five-ton troop-carrying trucks; and four Isuzu 11-ton prisoner-carrying trucks from Vehicles and Supplies Limited.
In March, Parliament approved a budget of $280 million for the purchase of motor vehicles and boats for the police, an increase from $100 million the previous year.
On Tuesday, Derrick Smith, the opposition spokesman on national security, said a lack of mobility is partly responsible for increasing crime on the island. He said the Government should give the police vehicles to enable them to do their jobs.
"If you want to support them, give them some vehicles. Right now, as we speak, 50 per cent of police vehicles are in garages all over the country ... and you cannot refute it," Smith said in comments aimed at National Security Minister Peter Bunting.
"The situation is so bad with tyres, fuel, uniform ... . The morale is at rock bottom," he added.
This year, the Government is spending $1.25 billion on the operation and management of the department's fleet of motor vehicles and motor cycles.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake, who has responsibility for operations, told The Gleaner yesterday that getting new vehicles would enhance the ability of the JCF to deploy personnel more effectively.
"We could do with much more, but this is a welcome addition to our operational capabilities," Blake said.
The senior police officer said law enforcement was "significantly short" of vehicles, which presents a major challenge to their activities.
"It takes a longer time to respond because when you are short of vehicles ... [and] ... a vehicle is on an operation ... you cannot respond. When you have a newer fleet and a reliable fleet, you are able to respond to citizens and you are able to effect more patrols on the streets. It boosts operational capacity in every possible way," Blake said.