Sun | Feb 17, 2019

Gov’t to expand new JDF unit

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:14 AM
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang

The Government is looking to further build out the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) new Maritime, Air, and Cyber Command Unit.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said that over US$36 million has already been spent to acquire state-of-the-art aircraft for the division.

A Beechcraft King Air 350 WR maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and two Bell 429 helicopters were commissioned into service last November.

Chang indicated that the unit will get the additional resources needed to deal with border security.

He was speaking on the topic ‘Revisiting Jamaica’s Crime Plan’ during The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus’ Research Day panel discussion, held at the Undercroft on February 7.

Dr Chang further said that the Government is seeking to provide the JDF with coastal radars, while assuring that “we are going to have an effective border-patrol security in another 24 months”.

“If we are going to control the crime rate and control the flow of guns into this country, it is going to cost a [significant sum] of money,” he emphasised.

Improving CyberSecurity

Meanwhile, the minister said that focus will be placed on improving cybersecurity to ensure the country keeps pace with up-to-date safeguards against technology-driven illicit activities.

He also disclosed that the JamaicaEye national closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance programme, geared towards improving public safety and disaster response, will be expanded this year.

Implemented in March 2018, JamaicaEye is a public-private partnership designed to network CCTV cameras owned by the ministry and accommodate feed from privately owned cameras.

It is designed to provide useful footage that can assist in informing the appropriate response to criminal activity, accidents, and natural disasters, among other incidents.

Dr Chang also said that the capacity and capability of Customs and the passport and immigration divisions will be revisited as part of efforts to consolidate safeguards at Jamaica’s ports of entry.