Fight against farm theft gets shot in the arm
HOURS BEFORE last Wednesday's official opening and handover ceremony of the Fellowship Hall Police Post located in the Hill Run Agro Park, St Catherine, lawmen there were pressed into service their third day on the job at the new facility.
"This morning, a lady came and made a report that 13 head of pigs had been slaughtered right there in her pigpen, along with two goats,' Sergeant Patrick Mahoney, the sub-officer in charge, told The Gleaner during a tour of the facilities shortly afterwards.
The plight of that Hill Run resident effectively underscores the timeliness of the latest plank in the drive to tackle farm theft in a game-changing demonstration of public-private-sector collaboration.
The establishment of the country's latest police post was spearheaded by the Caribbean Broilers Group, which operates its 400-acre agro campus known as Imagination Farms. It is in response to growing concerns by residents of Hill Run, Fellowship Hall and other farming communities, regarding threats to personal safety and continued praedial larceny.
The Fellowship Hall Police Post is outfitted with modern amenities including security and communication capabilities, with the overall cost of more than $10.5 million facilitated by the Caribbean Broilers Group, in partnership with Atelier-Vidal Limited, Cool Connection Limited, Digicel Jamaica Limited, Hylton & Hylton, Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS), National Outdoor Advertising Limited, Zoukie Trucking Services Limited and Innovative Corporate Solutions.
It is located on the Imagination Farms premises, for which the Jamaica Constabulary Force pays a nominal annual fee. Zoukie Trucking donated the building, and JPS provided the services and material to establish the electricity connection, including a transformer and street light.
Digicel, which provided all communication equipment, will facilitate a broadband interconnection, with Cool Connection Limited supplying all the security equipment.
Architect and design firm Atelier Vidal and attorneys-at-law Hylton & Hylton both offered their services free, as did National Outdoor and Advertising, which provided all signage, while Innovative Corporate Solutions donated a desktop computer.
In addition, the Caribbean Broilers Group donated a Ford Ranger Pickup valued at $2.5 million to cover the patrol needs and which will be integral to police operations.
Mahoney told The Gleaner: "There will always be a mobile unit out for the purpose of patrolling the area 24 hours a day. My advice to the people of Hill Run and surrounding areas is that it is very important for them to come to the police and report any and all matters affecting them, so we can help them in the best possible way."
Meanwhile, farmer Morris Lawrence, acting president of the Hill Run Citizens' Association, in welcoming this "long-overdue" initiative, urged the law enforcers deployed there to invest time in learning invaluable lessons from law-abiding residents.
"Some of the thieves will kill a goat and they put the meat in a five-gallon plastic bucket on a bicycle with couple bundles of callaloo on top. Now if you see him riding past like that with a cutlass and don't know, you might think is a farmer, when is rob him just rob a farmer," Lawrence said.
"So we are glad for this police post in Hill Run and to know that we will be much better off, with the police working alongside to get rid of some of these unscrupulous persons who are doing the stealing down there."