Police call for more partnerships to end inequality
The overwhelming lesson coming from a three-year project to train police officers on how to deal with vulnerable groups in society, is that more partnerships are needed in order for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to prioritise issues of gender based violence.
So said assistant commissioner of police at the National Police College of Jamaica, Norman Heywood, who told The Gleaner that the programme, which trained more than 50 police officers is well-needed. He disclosed that close to 40 per cent of the reports they receive on a daily basis has to do with gender-based violence. But with the severe resource constraints that the force battles with daily, more collaboration will be necessary to effectively deal with the issue.
"Frankly speaking, there are incidents that are treated with priority, and some incidents will outweigh some. We should be balancing everything, but the reality is that we can't balance with the limited resources that we have," he said following the graduation ceremony which took place at the Alhambra Inn in St Andrew.
"Let me put it frankly, we are stretched, we deal with everything, from a call in relation to a threat, to murder, and everything in between. What we need is partnership with support groups for us to do more referrals. It's just a small number of officers who are trained in how to deal with these issues. If we have more referral agencies, more partnerships, more places where after we take the initial report we can send persons, I think that would help a lot," Heywood told The Gleaner.
The police officer, however, sought to reassure that public that there will be tremendous improvement in how the force address issues that have to do with women, children and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"Look forward to more quality service, that is spread across a wider diverse population. You can look forward to police officers being more aware of the different challenges, the different sectors in the society and eventually deal with these issues," he said.
"I'm seeing a JCF that is more embracing of diversity, dealing with everyone equally, to serve all. The culture has been an issue ... you have different sub-cultures, and the police are a product of the society ... and the police officers coming out of this would have demonstrated what they have learnt throughout the years. However workshops like these have created a space for learning and understanding and space for coming together of people from diverse background to impart knowledge."
Dr Carolyn Gomes from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and Kandasi Walton-Levermore from the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life also gave remarks.
CVC and the Jamaica Aids Support for life are two of six partners implementing a project funded by the United Nations Trust Fund. The three-year project focuses on actions to reduce gender-based violence, particularly violence against women, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, female sex workers, and women living with disabilities.