‘9-to-5 policing hurting Negril’ - resident
Key stakeholders in Negril have criticised what they say is the inefficient and non-tactical deployment of police personnel based at the station in the area, in the wake of an increase in criminal activity in the resort town.
During the recent monthly meeting of the Negril Resort Board, several stakeholders, including visitors, complained to commanding officer for the Westmoreland Police Division, Superintendent Beau Rigabie, that they feared for their safety, as they were being assaulted, harassed, preyed upon by mendicants and were, at times, unable to walk along the seven- mile stretch of beach in peace.
"I have to say that over the 40 years, I have seen less police presence today than ever before. Where I see police presence, is on the roadway with a radar gun," said one Canadian visitor who had been travelling to Negril for the past 40 years.
"I do not see police stopping crime that way. I see five police officers at the side of the roadway at the parish border with one radar gun. The (Jamaica) Tourist Board needs to lobby for more police presence, peace officers. Whatever we need... they have to be in the crime areas to deter crime, not shooting radar out in the middle of the street," said the resident.
Others persons complained that the Negril police were not very helpful when reports of incidents were made, and
that a community-relations
programme appeared to be
One resident reported to Rigabie that he had recently told a uniformed cop that a crime was being committed in a nearby section of the town, and was told by the cop that he was 'not on duty'.
Operator of the Charela Inn, Daniel Grizzle, did not mince words as he voiced his unease.
SUB-PAR POLICING STRATEGY
According to Grizzle, the poor policing of the town was not due to a small squad of officers, but as a result of the non-strategic deployment of the cops. He argued that high police visibility would have prevented migrant criminals from moving into Negril.
"What I am concerned about is that the Negril Police Station runs like an office. When I say like an office, it is a nine-to-five thing," charged Grizzle.
"The amount of people in a police station is one thing; the quality of the management in the police is a very important thing. If you go down at about 11 o' clock in the roundabout, there are usually five policemen standing up on one side, and the funny thing about it is that cars are breaking the rules on the other side," added Grizzle.
According to Grizzle: "You walk along the beach, where during the day, most of the tourists are, and activities take place. I am on that beach, and since January ... I haven't seen any uniformed police walk up that beach. Nowhere in the world would you have a tourist resort with so many people and, for so long, there is no presence of law-enforcement officers".
"And this takes us to the question of those nicely dressed gentlemen in those white shirts and hats (Tourism Courtesy Corps). You cannot rely on them and say you have them as peace officers, because most of them are maybe afraid.
"They have the powers of arrest, as DCs (District Constables), (but) the only people they prosecute are a couple of ladies selling fruits on the beach. We cannot tolerate this foolishness here," Grizzle
He called for changes in the policing strategies, and for them to be more proactive in preventing crime, as opposed to being reactive.
"There was a shooting in the West End, and after the shooting, I see an army of policemen with vehicles and everything - after the fact. There is no pressure being put on people breaking the law, prior to them breaking the law. The policing in Negril is inadequate. It has nothing to do with the numbers; it has to do with the way they are managed," Grizzle said.
Responding to the complaints, Rigabie urged the stakeholders to help the police in crime
"I want you to help me to help you, because I can't do it alone,' declared Rigabie as he charged that criminals were heading to Negril because they believe it is a safe haven.