Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Commissioner of Police against splitting St James Division

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2020 | 12:10 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
From left: National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang discusses plans for the construction of a new police station in Mount Salem with Superintendent Vernon Ellis, head of the St James Police Division; Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson; and
From left: National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang discusses plans for the construction of a new police station in Mount Salem with Superintendent Vernon Ellis, head of the St James Police Division; Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson; and Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, during a tour of police stations in St James on Friday.

Western Bureau:

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson does not support the view that St James should be split into two police divisions. Instead, he thinks the parish would be better served by having a larger headquarters and additional human resources.

“I can tell you that it is not my focus to split St James in two. I have other things and bigger fish to fry,” explained Anderson, while responding to a question from The Gleaner during a media briefing following his tour of several police stations in St James on Friday.

In September 2016, retired Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams, while addressing a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica President’s Forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, stated then that St James is to be divided into two distinct police divisions by the end of that year, pointing out then that such a move would better enable the security forces to tackle scammers and criminals who have been operating throughout the parish.

One year after Williams’ declaration, Assistant Commissioner of Police Warren Clarke, who was then the officer in charge of Area One (Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland) expressed much frustration over the non-implementation of the decision to split the parish into two divisions, with separate divisional headquarters.

Lag in splitting

“The lag in splitting the parish for more efficient management has been frustrating. Although a north and south divide was initially considered, subsequent dialogue with the local authority and political representative has placed the decision up for review,” Clarke said then.

“An east and west divide better serves the purpose on the basis of proportional distribution of policing. A St James East and St James West appropriately dissect the investigative operational burden on limited resources (especially investigators). The eastern divisional headquarters should be situated in Coral Gardens or Ironshore. Instructions from the Government to divide the parish for policing are approaching a year old and must be implemented post-haste,” Clarke said.

However, despite the arguments that were advanced and the level of frustration that still exists, Anderson believes that providing additional resources, and not splitting the division, is the route that should be taken.

“What I need to do is give him (Superintendent Vernon Ellis, the current commander of St James) the assets, and where St James headquarters needs reinforcing in terms of additional personnel, give him more planners, more support. It will probably require a bigger headquarters, but to split that into two, I am not sure you are going to get the benefit on the ground from doing that,” said Anderson.

According to him, the idea of splitting St James into two independent divisions poses several challenges, to include human resources and other crime-management tools. He said it would only make sense if there are two separate headquarters.

“You won’t necessarily get additional persons, so you don’t split the persons you have [to put] in two spaces,” said Anderson. “If you really do it, it is from a command-and- control perspective.”

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