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Highway patrol fleet slashed

Published:Friday | March 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Rank-and-file cops are questioning whether the Police High Command has changed its policy on the use of highway patrols, with the withdrawal of a substantial portion of the fleet from the streets.

Putting the brakes on the highway patrols has triggered rising concerns from motorists.

Information received by The Gleaner revealed that since the start of the year, the approximately 60 units that patrolled the highways have been slashed.

But well-placed police sources say the situation has been made worse in recent weeks as only 17 units have been operational.

The Gleaner was told that situation reached a new low yesterday with only one unit working the stretch of highway in Sandy Bay, Clarendon.

"The situation is really grave," said one police officer, close to the situation. "Members of the public are asking what has happened to the highway patrol."

Concerned about change

To make matters worse, some policemen are frowning at the decision by the Police High Command to incorporate the well-known highway-oriented Ferry Police Station into the South St Catherine Division.

They contend that this has significantly weakened the highway-patrol system at the gateway to the Corporate Area. The police are also asking whether the entire traffic division was being subsumed into police divisions.

Efforts to contact Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, head of traffic, and communications director in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Karl Angell, were futile.

The transport minister and senior cops have repeatedly said increased police presence on the highways serves as a deterrent to motor-vehicle accidents.

There were 341 deaths on the roads as result of motor-vehicle mishaps in 2009 and 343 in 2008.