By Gareth Davis , Gleaner Writer
IT WILL take approximately $20 million to rehabilitate the nine police stations in Portland, National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips announced during a tour of the parish on Wednesday.
The Minister has been visiting a number of police stations across the island in an effort to identify first hand the facilities that are reportedly "run-down" and badly in need to repair.
The Manchioneal Police Station - the worst of the lot - will be rebuilt at a cost of $15 million, while the other seven stations, including the main station in Port Antonio, will be rehabilitated to the tune of $5 million.
"A modern-day police station will be constructed on the same property that is already housing the old Manchioneal station," Dr. Phillips told journalists and members of the business community following the tour. "The existing structure is already housing a courthouse section, and this will be preserved to facilitate court sessions. Also, the structure at the Castle Police Station, which is a little over 100 years old, will be preserved as it is somewhat historical."
The Minister added that various consultative committee groups within the community should play an integral part in the planning and rehabilitation work on the various stations.
"When the time comes for the redesigning and extension of the stations, the consultative committee will be called upon to play its part," he said.
The Minister reiterated that for the police to operate effectively and efficiently, they must be comfortable in their surroundings and be "properly equipped to adequately carry out their crime fighting duties."
"Portland is considered to be a low-crime zone. Last year there were only three murders recorded in the parish, however in 2004, as we speak, there have been three murders which were as a result of domestic dispute," the Minister said.
Dr. Phillips explained that some 29 new recruits have been deployed to Portland to "enhance policing", adding that this was from a batch of the more than 450 officers which have graduated from Twickenham Park, this year. "For the first time in the country's history we now have the largest batch of police officers, dispatched islandwide to combat crime," he said.