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McGregor’s transfer irks some St James residents

Published:Friday | June 10, 2016 | 6:00 AMAdrian Frater and Okoye Henry
McGregor

Western Bureau:

The decision by the police hierarchy to transfer Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor from St James has not gone down well with some stakeholders in the parish, especially in the communities where he had crime-preventing initiatives in place.

"I believe he was making an impact by connecting with the people. He has been steadily winning the trust of the people and making an impact on the community with his programmes," said Pastor Knollis King, who heads the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace movement.

"I am not happy to see him leaving at this time."

During a period of heightened lawlessness in 2015, McGregor was transferred from the Kingston Western Police Division to St James to deal with the upsurge in murders and other criminal activities, which has earned the parish the dubious title of the nation's crime capital.

When McGregor was transferred from Kingston Western, the residents in those communities, with whom he had developed a special bond in the aftermath of the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, protested the decision and called for his return.

FATHER FIGURE

During his one-year stint in St James, McGregor implemented a number of bold community-policing initiatives in his bid to build trust among residents.

He was viewed as a father figure in some communities, where he unofficially adopted children from homes without fathers.

In the communities where he broke down the barriers in terms of a history of antagonism between residents and the police, residents are openly expressing the view that unless he is replaced by an equally caring commanding officer, the gains he made could go down the drain.

"This is one policeman that I trust and believe in ... when he gives you his word, he keeps it," said a resident from Rose Heights.

"I know that some politicians don't like his style of policing, but he was getting the job done ... and in a humane way."

For persons like King, who represent the community as councillor in the St James Parish Council, the mere one-year stint that McGregor served was just too short to have the desired impact.

"I definitely believe one year was too short. Mr Derrick Champagnie was a very good, outstanding officer, and by the time we start reaching somewhere, they moved him. It's always the same thing, and I'm tired of the same type of game. Trust takes time to build," said King.

Rose Heights is one community where McGregor recently introduced the 'Police Supervised Curfew Initiative', which is designed to keep children off the streets and away from antisocial activities at nights.

With McGregor gone, King told The Gleaner that he is now unsure of the fate of the project, although he was told by another police officer from the neighbouring Mt Salem community, where there is a similar initiative, that the programme will continue.