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Police protest significant in St James

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 3:35 PMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

The St James Police Division was significantly affected by yesterday's protest action by lawmen of the Jamaica Police Federation, which is currently locked in a pay dispute with the Government.

"We are badly affected by the situation," said Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, the commanding officer of the St James Police Division, when he was contacted by The Gleaner shortly after midday yesterday. "Of the 169 police personnel who should be on duty today, 102 have called in sick."

"Thankfully, we have the soldiers here helping us out," said McGregor, whose division currently leads the nation in homicides with more than 70 murders since the start of the year.

Despite his badly depleted team, McGregor said all the critical areas, to include the port of entry and the cell blocks at the various police stations, were being adequately manned through the tactical deployment of the available personnel.

"We have made sure that all the critical areas are adequately covered, but it is really stretching the resources available to us," added McGregor. "The situation is bad, but we are doing our very best to cope."

As a consequence of the protest action, no prisoners were transported to the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday, resulting in only matters involving persons on bail being dealt with. Additionally, there were no joint police-military patrols as the police personnel were missing.

"The soldiers are basically on their own today," a senior policeman told The Gleaner. "You have to understand that when people are sick, they cannot work ... they need medicine so that they can become fit enough to take care of their families."

However, while the situation was quite serious in St James, things were much different in the adjoining parishes of Hanover and Trelawny, where the protest seemed to have very little impact.

"This morning, a number of our members reported sick," said Deputy Superintendent of Police Arthel Colley, commander of the Hanover Police Division.

"However, although they are out on sick leave, we are still manning all the vital points. Our patrols are out; court is in session, so the division is affected but not severely."