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Anti-corruption 'branches' out to St James

Published:Friday | March 5, 2010 | 3:00 AM

Noel Thompson, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Anti-Corruption Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is to establish an arm of its unit in the St James Police Division to investigate alleged corrupt practices by some members in that parish.

Commanding officer in charge of the St James Division, Merrick Watson, made the disclosure while addressing members of the media in Montego Bay yesterday. He said the unit would be the first such to be established outside the Corporate Area.

"Space has already been identified and it is now left for certain necessities to be done and, as soon as these are achieved, the team will be resident in St James," he said.

Watson said he was cognisant of the fact that many persons believe corruption is rife within the St James Division, but quickly pointed out that while corruption does exist, it has not grabbed hold of the majority of policemen in the parish.

Karl Angell, director of communication for the JCF, said the unit would serve St James specifically, but could also spread its operations across the Area One Division and as far as St Elizabeth should the need arise.

Meanwhile, Watson said that as part of the division's policing strategy to curtail crime, it would be placing greater emphasis on community policing, particularly in unstructured communities.

"I believe community policing is the way to go. Already, we have started some work in that regard. We have separated some divisions into zones and persons have been assigned to these zones. This is to ensure that community policing and safety become a major feature in some of these communities," Watson stated.

He said, however, that work needed to be done to get these communities in a state of readiness to accept this new style of policing, as there is now a stigma associated with the practice.

noel.thompson@gleanerjm.com