Portland's top cop impacting lives through the creative arts
Corporal Leron Mattison, sub-officer in charge of community safety and security in Portland, has for the last 10 years been working in his community with an integrated approach to tackling and preventing different social issues among the youth.
Mattison enlisted in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in 2006 and from then he had a desire to both serve and protect, and to give back to young people in the community where he grew up.
Following his graduation, he started the Boston and Fairy Hill Children's Group, a community theatre group under the theme, 'Making Love, Unity and Peace a Reality'.
"There were so many reports of young people committing crimes and being indisciplined. Parents would take these children to the police station and ask us to speak with them," Mattison said.
He then decided to become more intimately involved in executing the concept of community-based policing. However, initially posted at the Professional Standards Branch of the JCF and then in the General Office at Area 5 Headquarters, working outside of Portland proved difficult for him to provide the support needed at that time.
"I realised that talking to these young people was just one of the ways to get through to them, so I decided to get them involved in other activities and applied for and was transferred to the Portland Division in 2009. That's when the transformative efforts I had in mind began to bear fruit," Mattison said.
The young cop became acquainted with the various community groups and also placed special emphasis on primary and high schools in Portland.
The group was renamed the Love, Unity and Peace Children's Group and continued using creative expression as a major component, allowing members from as early as age six to participate in music, speech, drama and dance.
"We aim to create an environment that encourages and reinforces proper morals, acceptance of good values/behaviour, while promoting self-esteem, self-discipline and positive relationships," Mattison said.
"I don't think we can get through to the adults as much as we can reach the children; we have to spend more time on them to mould their minds. This will prevent them from getting into jail cells," Mattison said.
There are visits and performances by the children in other parishes; spelling marathons are hosted and an academic sports day is also part of the project's objective to enhance the importance of education.
Mattison was awarded Most Outstanding Portland Community Safety and Security Member for 2011, and has represented the division on three occasions as the Divisional JCF Police Officer of the Year. He is now pursuing a BSc degree in youth development work at the University of the West Indies.