'Community policing is the way to go' - McGregor outlines path to curb lawlessness
Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the commanding officer for St James, has identified community policing as the most effective way to curb lawlessness in the parish and other crime-plagued areas.
According to McGregor, the successes he reaped in curtailing the murder toll as head of the Kingston Central and Kingston West police divisions, where he was stationed before St James, was as a result of the effective community-policing strategies employed by the officers under his command at the time.
"My main approach to management in my team is to make that connection with the people, because I see policing as managing the people and managing your resources, which is also people," said McGregor, as he addressed a Gleaner mini forum in Montego Bay.
"When you manage the two-people resource in a meaningful way, it works. And I've always said, if you do it in a consistent, honest and genuine way to influence the attitudes of people, you will eventually change their behaviour."
He added: "Community policing is the way to go ... . These young people that we have now are fast forming their own culture, and if we, as adults, as police managers, don't influence the attitude that they have towards the formulation of this culture, it is going to be to our detriment."
Said McGregor: "Children are getting drunk at 12; when we were growing up, we didn't know that. When we used to fight (as children), by the evening or tomorrow we are friends again. When they fight a man and say 'don't move' and a him gun him a come back wid fi kill him friend, you know."
McGregor said that, as leader of the division, he has been spending copious amounts of time within St James' communities to help rebuild the confidence of residents in the police.
INCREASED POLICE PRESENCE
He said he has doubled the number of police personnel assigned to the Community Safety and Security unit within the division to work with community groups, as well as assigned district constables within communities.
"We used the majority of last year to put that base in place. You would have seen the amount of community meetings that we had; we took that one consistent message to all the communities of St James, and every evening I go out (to meetings). I have to take the lead, so when they see you as the leader, that is the reason people will make that connect with me, because if you can't trust the leader, you can't trust anybody ... ," said McGregor.
Drawing reference to the success of community policing he employed in west Kingston, McGregor said that after winning the confidence of the people, including the area leader or don, he ended up as 'the man', the person to whom the residents looked in time of trouble.
McGregor, nonetheless, noted that
St James is somewhat different from Kingston, as there are no informal structures like the dons and as a consequence, everybody tends to do their own thing. However, by seeking to win the hearts of the communities, he expects that the ultimate result will be the same.
"All that we are talking about is a strategic plan that people don't appreciate. Because that is the reason people would want to think say me coulda solve St James problem inna one year - because a me dem a come at, you know - and me a nuh no Messiah; me no have no magic wand. It can't happen. It neva happen overnight. St James has been averaging 150 murders for the last 10 years ... . St James problem never start yesterday," McGregor said.