Fri | Sep 22, 2017

3,000 cops to be trained at UWI in three years

Published:Friday | August 18, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake
National Security Minister Robert Montague
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A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was yesterday signed between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as the authorities try to bolster the number of members within the constabulary.

Among the signatures affixed to the MOU were that of National Security Minister Robert Montague and UWI Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal Archibald McDonald. Both men said it signalled a proactive move to counter a low number of boots within the JCF and an ever-rising attrition rate.

The MOU will see 3,000 new JCF recruits being trained at the UWI campus each year for the next three years, providing a solution for the lack of accommodation at the National Police Academy at Twickenham Park in St Catherine.

It is aimed at bolstering the number of JCF members from 11,433 to a desired 14,000 members. No cost was divulged for the programme, which is scheduled to start in October this year.

The recruits will occupy classrooms at the university, be housed on campus, and will partner with students from various disciplines, including social work, human rights, crime-scene investigation, and technology.

Salary, poor working conditions, delayed promotions driving police from force

"It is no secret that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) continues to struggle with attrition and the shortage of persons. Our establishment currently stands at 14,092 and our working strength, as of this morning, is 11,433," said Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake, who addressed the function in the absence of Police Commissioner George Quallo.

"In 2015, we graduated 244 persons, and during that same time, 514 persons left the organisation. In 2016, we graduated into the organisation 495 persons; last year, 544 persons exited the organisation. Not only do we continue to lose persons, we continue to lose some of our best persons. We continue to operate at a deficit," said Blake, fingering job satisfaction, salary, poor working conditions and delayed promotions among the reasons officers were opting to leave the JCF.

Montague indicated that the officers will also benefit from two scholarships in the Engineering Faculty that will be offered by the UWI, and that while the numbers were low, the police were, nonetheless, making a dent in crime.

"If you listen to some people, they will tell you one thing, but the numbers tell me different. The statistics tell me that we have seen a reduction in crime since January of this year to the end of July, compared to the same period last year," he said. "Shootings and murders are up both by a little over 20 per cent, and so, in our space, we index crime by murders. If murder is up, the average person tells us that crime is up."