POLICE CHIEF READY TO TAKE ON ST MARY
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
ST MARY'S first female police chief, Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, arrived in the parish earlier this month and immediately set to work establishing her unique brand of law-enforcement management.
Lindsay was born in Kingston but grew up in Clarendon, and, after joining the police force in 1990, spent the next two decades toiling in a variety of administrative and operational posts throughout the Corporate Area.
The superintendent is a warm and approachable individual with a vivacious personality and disarming smile. Clearly, charm and intelligence helped propel her to the upper ranks of the force, but surely, it must have been difficult manoeuvring as a woman in a profession dominated by alpha males.
"For me, personally, it's not difficult," Lindsay told Rural Xpress. "You have to become a confident and knowledgeable leader who makes decisions based on good judgement because there is always the accusation that females make decisions based on emotion as opposed to rationality.
"I don't believe I'm inferior because we all do the same training and are exposed to do the same things, so it's about what you take and make of it. As a female leader, I'm not intimidated in the least."
As a pioneer of community policing, her arrival in the parish widely regarded as having the best community policing unit on the island suggests the new commissioner, Dr Carl Williams, is serious about modernising the force.
Lindsay agrees: "I think being sent here means the High Command has confidence that I can work at this level, which is good. The commissioner said to me: 'Your background and strength in community policing are things we are really looking for in St Mary.'
"St Mary is regarded as one of the safest parishes in Jamaica, but that means we have to be very focused on crime prevention because you can't become complacent. Criminals are looking for safe zones, so I've told my officers that we're in crime-prevention mode.
"We will continue to build on our community partnerships because I find the citizens here have a good relationship with the police. There's mutual respect, and that is something people have come to expect. It's part of the culture here and something we embrace."
While the parish experienced a 21 per cent drop in serious and violent crimes in 2014, one town in St Mary has proved to be particularly resistant to the force's crime-reduction strategies.
Lindsay said: "Annotto Bay is the major hotspot area and the community we really want to focus on. With our partners, we'll be doing a lot of intervention work there.
"That means it will become necessary at times to have serious policing operations, but we are very mindful that you can't police your way out of every challenge because many of those challenges are far beyond policing. They are social and infrastructural problems."
Looking ahead, Lindsay hopes to build upon the solid foundation that already exists between law enforcement officers and local residents and insists that every individual and group has a role to play in helping to keep the parish secure.
She said: "In 2015, you can expect to see your police officers in the town centres and major thoroughfares and a strong and cohesive police-citizen partnership. One thing I can guarantee is that I will be calling on every stakeholder group in the parish to help maintain the safety and security."