Sun | Mar 24, 2019

Who needs guns? JDF fights crime with brooms and gumption

Published:Friday | February 22, 2019 | 12:05 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

For months, sections of west Kingston and south St Andrew were under lockdown by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), armed with powerful rifles as they set about driving out criminals who have terrorised residents for years.

But last Saturday, the army took on another mission in the same zone but zeroed in on the Denham Town and Boys’ Town primary schools, trading in M16s for brooms, shovels, and power washers.

For hours, the team comprising members of Intake 1801 of the Jamaica National Service Corps was busy giving a facelift to the two inner-city schools.

JDF Major Kaniel Smith, who was on the ground supervising the working group, said that the programme is geared at impacting youth by making them employable while providing them with life skills and instilling discipline.

“The Jamaica National Service Corps is part of the National Military Engagement Programme, so the entire programme engages different aspects of youth, but this part engages any youngster who meets the criteria for enlistment in the JDF,” Smith told The Gleaner.

Chadwick Gordon, one of the trainees, said he had recently completed one year in the programme, dubbing his experience “rough” but rewarding.

“It has made me a better person and made me see things clearer, and it has pushed me to achieve more things.

“In every way I am a better person. I am a more responsible person now because when you get a task, you just have to carry out the task because if you don’t, ... there are consequences you will have to face,” Gordon, who was landscaping a section of Boys’ Town Primary, explained.

He heaped praise on the programme, saying that it helps keep youngsters out of trouble.

Meanwhile, Smith said that the programme has been working miracles for both the youth and the JDF.

“It is assisting the JDF in terms of manning levels because the JDF is expanding, because the JDF is growing. So this programme is not just helping the general populace to reduce the high youth unemployment rate, it is also helping to mould better citizens. It makes our job easier in terms of crime fighting,” he said.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com