More police needed in Negril, says chamber of commerce
With crime now an unwelcome aspect of life in their town, members of the Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC) are bemoaning a steady decrease in the number of police personnel assigned to the Negril Police Division.
According to the chamber, a decade ago, the town had 120 police personnel and with crime now far more worrisome, the population significantly larger and twice the number of visitors coming to the town, the number has been reduced to a mere 75.
"About 10 years ago, we had 120 police. Not only did we have 120 police officers, we had two inspectors, and I think at that time we had four sergeants; the management team was there ... . A couple of months ago, we had (only) 60," said co-founder of the NCC, businessman Daniel Grizzle, during a Gleaner forum on job creation, investment and growth, held in Negril, Westmoreland, last week.
"Not only have we doubled the hotel rooms, we have tripled the (number of) residents. You only have 75 (officers) because we have been raising hell, and Mr (Peter) Bunting has helped us out," Grizzle added.
Bunting was the minister of national security in the previous Government, which was removed from office last month.
Grizzle said the inadequate number of police personnel had also resulted in an increase in cases of tourist harassment on the Negril beach.
He recommended that the police revisit their deployment plans to coincide with the time of day that harassers tend to flock to the beach.
"You talk about the harassers on the beach ... the criminals - what are the times they are out, especially on the beach? From 6:30 in the morning, and again they are there from six in the evening to 12 at night, and these are the times when the police patrol is not on the beach," said Grizzle.
"The busiest time, from 6:30 to, say, 8:30 in the morning, is when the harassers come out in full force," he added.
"We realise you have a restriction in terms of numbers, but you have to try to spread your men, because at these hours in the morning, the beach is like a busy high street; that's where most of the people are exercising, walking up and down," said Grizzle, in putting his concern to the Negril police.
"... And when a guest is staying at (a hotel) and feels intimidated to come out to the bottom of the beach, that person will say, 'Why the hell do I bother to come back? It is a beautiful place, but I cannot enjoy it.' So we appreciate what you are doing. Don't get me wrong, we are not criticising but it needs a little tweaking."
In responding to Grizzle's concern, head of the Negril police, Superintendent Adrian Hamilton, said the Jamaica Constabulary Force was pushing to get the division an ideal number of personnel for effective policing.
He said the cooperation of residents and the placement of security cameras will also be effective in curbing crime on the beach.
"We have to look at the harassment on the beach. We have created a team that operates there, and we have increased that deployment by 12, from our resources, to ensure that again we can control some of the problems that we are having there," said Hamilton.