'We cannot sit on our laurels'
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
TOWER ISLE, St Mary:AFTER ALMOST three years serving as the commanding officer for St Mary, St Ann, and Portland, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell has been reassigned and returns to the post he previously held at the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) later this month.
Speaking from his office at Area Two Headquarters in Tower Isle, St Mary, earlier this week, Powell revealed that he was both sad to leave the parish and optimistic about the future.
He told Rural Xpress: "I've been here two years and eight months and it's been an excellent and very rewarding sojourn. St Mary, in particular, is a wonderful parish with great prospects. If you notice, there are a lot of returning residents in this area, which shows that people are willing to invest.
"Ultimately, it's investment that is going to reduce crime, but it's a chicken and egg situation. Which comes first? Is a reduction in crime followed by investment, or is it the other way around?
"Yes, the prospects are great, but we cannot sit on our laurels. We must continue to fight and reduce crime."
Powell described St Mary's community policing unit as arguably "... the best in the country", and insisted that group's work played a major role in helping to reduce violent and serious crimes by 21 per cent in 2014.
"Area Two is the safest region in the country, and I think that's due to a number of things," he said. "Traditionally, crime has always been low in the region, but every area has the potential to erupt, and that has to be maintained.
"In St Mary, there has been a reduction in all categories of crime. Murders in the parish are down from 35 to 25 last year, which is significant.
"I think one of the things that helped is the excellent relationship we have with the public and business stakeholders. The relationship between the citizens and police in St Mary is one of the best you'll find anywhere.
"The police's involvement in school and community activities is tremendous, and this is the emphasis of the new commissioner and the direction we are heading in."
According to the statistics, crime fell significantly during Powell's tenure. The St James-born police chief believes the hard-working rank-and-file police personnel, who are largely responsible for this reduction, deserve and need greater support.
He said: "Resources are always a challenge, but irrespective of the resources you have, if you don't take care of the human element, you're not going to get anywhere.
"The more programmes there are that let [police personnel] know that we care for and believe in them, the better things will be. People are the most important resource we have, and, I believe, if we could do a little more to help our people, we'll get better results."
As he prepares to leave the parish, Powell acknowledges that a return to the CIB will bring him closer to his original passion. He said: "I really enjoyed working at Area Two and had a wonderful time, but I'm going back to something that I really love.
"Here, I'm responsible for coordinating all policing activities and overseeing the operations and administration in St Mary, St Ann, and Portland.
"At the CIB, I'm responsible for criminal investigations across the entire island and developing policies and strategies for investigation, so I have a broader and more strategic role to play."