How Municipal Police help in enforcement
Municipal Police Units have been established in parish councils in Jamaica since 1999, with a clear mandate to maintain civic order, enforce municipal laws and regulations, secure and protect the property, personnel and equipment of the local authorities, as well as and investigate claims and other matters on their behalf.
The Ministry of Local Government, in its description of the roles of the municipal police in a document on Local Government Reform, notes that the establishment of the Municipal Police Units was primarily aimed at enhancing the capacity of the local authorities in the maintenance of public order and improvement in their revenue collections, thereby enabling them to execute their legislative functions more efficiently and effectively.
"This para-military group has certain specific functions for which they are trained, namely the maintenance of public order, revenue enforcement activities and enforcement of various laws that govern the activities of the councils, that is the Town and Country Act, the Parish Council Act and the Parochial Laws," the ministry noted.
Municipal police officers must first undergo a training course organised, or approved by the Local Government Ministry, and upon successful completion, should be sworn in as a Special District Constable before becoming operational, the Ministry document said.
Specifically, the roles of the municipal police are to patrol the parishes to observe civil activity and ensure compliance with municipal laws and regulations such as the National Solid Waste Management Act, regulate hawkers and peddlers and prosecute operators of public passenger vehicles who commit traffic offences. They are to also ensure operators of public places, places of amusement and business places are complying with the relevant public health regulations.
In addition, municipal police are also mandated to administer the enforcement of traffic regulations governed by the local authority, particularly those involved in private passenger vehicles, and enforcing the rules and regulations governing the operations of municipal transport centres. As for the markets operated by the respective parish councils, the municipal police are to monitor approved vending areas to ensure that the vendors are complying with the stipulated terms and conditions of their contracts, such as the payment of fees and are operating within the terms of their arrangements.
The officers are also obligated to report on breaches of building regulations and encroachment and assist revenue and compliance officers of the parish councils in registering businesses under the Business and Trade Licences Act. Their responsibilities also include reporting to the council on punitive measures taken against non-compliant persons and serving assessment notices and report on the abuse of public facilities such as public pipes and water tanks.