Station cop-out - Hit by health hazards, Trelawny police chief says lives at risk
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
The Trelawny police have called for the completion of a multimillion-dollar station on Rodney Street in Falmouth, as the division buckles under pressure from the health department to improve working conditions for cops.
The situation has reportedly become untenable, as the police are being housed in three separate locations, one of which is the old police station, which has already been declared a major health hazard.
"We have been served a notice from the public health department to say that one of the areas is too small. At any time, you will have at least 30 policemen working in that area," said Superintendent Linette Williams-Martin, commanding officer for the Trelawny Police Division.
"There are only two restrooms to serve these men as well as the prisoners. The area is much too small to operate from."
The officer issued the impassioned plea last Thursday during the Trelawny Parish Council's monthly meeting.
Ground was broken for the multi-purpose police station in 2002 by then National Security Minister K.D. Knight. Construction actually commenced in 2006, as its completion was scheduled ahead of the 2007 staging of Cricket World Cup.
Work was halted on the project, due mainly to contractual disagreements between the Ministry of National Security and Ashtrom Building Systems - the project contractors. In 2008, the Jamaica Labour Party Government approved $250 million for work resumption.
Building may crumble
Police personnel are currently housed at a section of the Falmouth Infirmary, the old police station, and rented premises adjacent to the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.
"That (old police station) building can crumble on the officers at any moment. We cannot operate under such conditions," Williams-Martin explained. "We are fragmented, and the tide (from the sea) came in the other day and we were awash with faeces. There is no way we can continue like this."
The superintendent lamented that the administrative functions of the police have been seriously hampered, as proper supervision of the junior ranks was virtually impossible.
Meanwhile, Falmouth Mayor Colin Gager said the Urban Development Corporation had advised him that it was ironing out some problems with the contractors.
"As soon as these problems with the contractors have been worked out, it will be full speed ahead. When that happens, you will get to occupy your well-deserved station," Gager said.