Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been partnering with the United Way of Jamaica for more than 21 years to support the social, skills training and employment-generation programmes.
Almost 5,000 of the JCF's members consistently fund its programmes to support improvement in early-childhood education, children and youth at risk, conflict resolution programmes, health education and healthy lifestyle initiatives.
The United Way of Jamaica recently recognised the JCF during its Nation Builders Awards and Employee Awards ceremony held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. They received awards in various categories, including one of the gold awards for 75 to 100 per cent participation.
Superintendent Merrick Watson, commandant of the Jamaica Police Academy, who along with Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jevene Bent, collected the awards on behalf of the constabulary, said as law-enforcement officers in whatever way they can assist to prevent persons from committing crime in the first place they are willing to do so.
"We want to pay more attention to prevention. We contribute so that this organisation can assist individuals to make better living for themselves and keep themselves out of trouble," Watson said.
The JCF's contributions also assist persons who are physically and mentally challenged, while reaching out to communities which are difficult to police as a result of high unemployment, large numbers of unattached youth, high teenage pregnancies and illiteracy.
"We see our contribution as our way of giving back to the society. In the business of law enforcement, if we did not believe that we could make a difference, some of us would not stay in it," Watson said.
The contribution from JCF and other organisations have also benefited programmes within the inner city in areas of skills training, early childhood and youth development. With the support of funding from United Way of Jamaica, Rise Life Management Services provides a child-friendly and parenting space consisting of two renovated classrooms that can house up to 100 children and 75 adults daily.
"We believe that we have a responsibility as citizens of this country to help this country to be all that it can be. We have to live here and we have to create the conditions to ensure that we live a safe and comfortable life," Watson added.
More than 160 individuals, employees in participating companies and organisations were recognised at the United Way's annual Nation Builders Awards function. Companies with more than 75 per cent of staff participation qualify for gold awards, 50-74 per cent participation qualify for silver, and 25-49 per cent participation qualify for bronze.