Gov't builds new police dorms to cope with planned membership increase
National Security Minister Robert Montague on Wednesday cut the ribbon to a new set of dormitory rooms at Harman Barracks in St Andrew in anticipation of an influx of new recruits who will need to be housed properly during long training periods.
The Harman Barracks project cost approximately $24 million and it includes four dormitories, a multi-facility bathroom and an auditorium.
The minister also announced that a similar project is to follow at Twickenham Park in St Catherine, as there is a serious need for more police in the force.
"The force is short of 3,000 members. The establishment calls for 14,092 (members) and we are at 11,400. Because the Government is determined that we have to address it in the shortest possible time, we are giving ourselves three years, but we are hoping that we will be able to complete the task before," Montague said.
Stronger force needed
The minister highlighted that by increasing the numbers, it would give the force a stronger hand in ensuring that gangs islandwide are uprooted and that the borders are locked off from gun traffickers.
"Why is it important that we have our full establishment, people may ask. Jamaica is faced with two major problems - guns and gangs. If we don't have enough police officers in the streets, we cannot confront the gangs and we won't be able to lock off our borders. If we are not doing that, the country will continue to suffer from insecurity and our citizens feeling hopeless and helpless," Montague said.
"The effect of gang activity in this country is (stifled) economic growth. The World Bank estimates that crime is stifling our economy by some four to five per cent. If we, as a country, can reduce criminal activities by half, the country would grow by two per cent. It means more jobs for the unemployed. It means better roads in almost every community. It means better social services for the vulnerable. It means better training opportunities. It means more street lights in communities. It may even mean more pay increase for rank and file. If the economy is growing, more revenue is coming in and more money is available to help run the country."