Champs alert! - Police making special arrangements for 5-day meet
Peace For Champs Initiative founder, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Terrence Bent, says the Jamaica Constabulary Force will be making special preparations for next week's ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships.
SPP Bent told The Gleaner that particular attention will be given to potential clashes between fans of defending boys champions Calabar High and rivals Kingston College. This is especially since there is an ongoing disagreement between both schools regarding the late registration of KC's middle-distance runner Ari Rodgers, by ISSA, for the meet.
"I am mindful of the perception or the reality of the conflict, and we have taken a decision to manage the internals using special law-enforcement teams within the stadium," Bent said.
He added that special policing will not just be done at the National Stadium where Champs will be held, but also on the streets of the Corporate Area on all five days of the meet.
"We understand that out in the general areas of the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre and along the roadways leading to and from the event on the five days, there's the possibility of clashes between not only those supporters, but generally speaking, the conduct of young persons. The rivalry sometimes takes an unfriendly turn, but we will put patrols, mobile and on foot, and will be covering those areas likely to see conflicts emerging."
Bent said that the arrangement for Champs revolves around what he describes as "some critical pillars".The first of them, he says, is venue security.
"Venue security is largely around access to Independence Park Limited, and in particular, to the stadium complex itself, in terms of ensuring that the persons that enter the facility are properly searched to prevent prohibited items from entering the stadium. We're looking at how we manage unauthorised access to the facility. We know that there's a capacity limitation, and what we have noticed from time to time is that persons would turn up without the ability to enter vis-a-vis no tickets or accreditation, but somehow, they enter the facility. We also need to make sure that those who have lawfully entered observe all of the stipulations and regulations that govern the operations of the stadium in terms of seating, conduct, no smoking, the introduction of large igloos and other banned articles."
Bent said that he is hoping the Peace for Champs Initiative, which he describes as "successful so far", will be able to reduce the opportunities for clashes, and that the management of both schools will implore their students and supporters to conduct themselves properly.
The Peace for Champs Initiative, which is in its eighth year, is a campaign aimed at promoting peace leading up to the staging of Champs. This campaign sees students of schools in the Corporate Area carrying out marches and other campaigns to remind students of the need for unity and civility during the festivities. Bent said that there will be a rally in the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre this week as part of the plans.