Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer
Persons seeking police records for employment or applying for United States permanent visas have been experiencing long waits at the Criminal Records Office at 34 Duke Street, Kingston.
Reports of impropriety linked to the issuing of police records prompted the US Embassy in St Andrew to issue an advisory requesting permanent-visa applicants, with police records issued prior to June 14, to redo their applications as part of new security measures.
A Gleaner news team visited the office recently in an effort to ascertain how long the encounter would take following complaints of lengthy waits.
Outside the crowded Criminal Records Office, several persons were waiting in line before eight o'clock that morning.
Lines and more lines
On entering the crowded room to get a number, the team noticed another small room to the left with persons waiting their turn to be processed. Others could be seen standing in a line on the staircase leading to another room upstairs.
Beside the staircase, a man dressed in a light blue shirt sat at a desk issuing numbers to persons seeking police certificates.
The Gleaner collected No. 39 and stepped back outside on to the crowded sidewalk, trying to find a spot at the back of the line.
A medium-built woman in her mid-30s, clad in a light-green dress, and holding No. 34, was waiting since 9:30, an hour after the office opened for business.
The Gleaner learned that No. 39 was reissued after the daily allotment of 200 numbers ran out.
At 10:15 a.m., No. 81 was called.
A tall youth dressed in a grey T-shirt and khaki pants, selling juices and banana chips, made his way through the crowd, some of whom were grateful to see him after waiting in line since 8 o'clock.
Two portly sisters wearing jeans and low-cut blouses sauntered up the sidewalk, uncertain as to whether they should go inside for a number or return another day.
A fair-skinned man in surgical gloves came to the door holding several envelopes containing police records in his hands, calling out the names of persons who had applied earlier.
Two of the persons lingering on the sidewalk stepped forward.
A stocky, dark-complexioned woman sat on a stool by the entrance to the records office, her digital camera atop her battery-operated printer as she awaited customers seeking photos for police records.
A young woman handed her $500. The photographer took her to a makeshift studio at an ABM, just metres away, and used the money machine's beige-coloured wall as a backdrop for the photo.
At 11:45, an employee came to the door, calling No. 151.
A middle-age man, standing beside a group of men waiting to go inside the office, peered at the news team's number.
"Might as well hold on to the number and come back tomorrow morning around 8 o'clock. Nobody can tell you don't have your number already," the man said, obviously familiar with the system.
After waiting for more than two hours, it was clear it would be a long, painstaking wait.