Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
They laid down their arms and swooped down on the Headley Avenue community of Drewsland in Waterhouse, St Andrew, engaging the residents with some soul-searching gospel songs, spreading the love of Jesus Christ.
Singing songs such as In Christ My Lord I Place My Trust, God and God Alone and Thou O Lord Are A Shield For Me, the angelic voices of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) choir warmed the hearts of the scores who turned out for a concert in Drewsland recently.
It was not customary for residents of this volatile community to observe unarmed police personnel descending on the area in numbers to embrace them in praise and worship. The usual picture is quite the converse with heavily armed officers patrolling the streets almost the norm.
"It was a totally enjoyable evening for me, and I now see them (police) in a new light," one of the residents commented, as she reflected on the programme put on by the Washington Gardens Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church.
The choir fulfilled one aspect of their mandate which is to reassure the community as they acknowledged their dependence on God.
"The choir was really good. The gesture was fitting, putting the children in the right frame of mind ahead of the new school term," said Shirley Richards, communication director at the Washington Gardens SDA.It was not only about the singing, however, as back-to-school issues were also on the minds of everyone.
The children were advised that they should "be satisfied with what their parents could afford to give them and work hard in school". They were then presented with more than 100 back-to-school packages.
One recipient, Ceyana Riley, a second-year tertiary student, acknowledged the important role of the church in the community in educating and elevating the youths through the youth club and programmes such as the one hosted along with the police choir.
But the JCF choir has been impacting the lives of many positively since 1971 when they started out as a male group. Women were later incorporated in 1979.
"I remember last year we performed at a church on Parks Road and, at one stage, it was like a spirit moved across the choir. The congregants became emotional, some screaming and worshipping God. The members of the choir also wept. I have never experienced anything like this before," said Inspector Yvonne Roofe, the assistant managing director of the choir.
District Constable Heston Boothe, the choir's musical director, says the choir, which numbers about 40, is usually invited by schools, community groups and churches to perform.
"Most of the members are Christians, and we have performed at a numbers of places islandwide, where people get to see the police in a different light," the former educator said.