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No safe haven - McGregor vows to take back communities from stranglehold of criminals

Published:Thursday | July 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Steve McGregor
In this 2007 file photo, members of the Lacovia Police Youth Club paint a pedestrian crossing as part of their observance of Labour Day.

Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, the man recently put in charge of the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, is vowing to take back control of communities now under siege by criminals.

McGregor told The Gleaner at a forum on crime held at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St Andrew on Wednesday that he would be establishing at least one safe community in each of the 19 police divisions in the country.

The senior cop declared that within the first three months of his tenure as head of the Community Safety and Security Branch, all police divisions should have identified a community to be designated a 'safe community' and work should be under way to achieve the objective.

So by what measure will a community be designated safe?

"It must have the curfew programme for youngsters under 17; it must have a consultative committee; it must have mobile foot patrol [personnel] with body cameras and a mobile patrol that gives coverage to them; there must be an active police youth club," McGregor outlined.

He said that the police would be relying on social agencies within parishes to provide support to the police in this effort.

"I have already started to reach out to the Peace Management Initiative, the people from USAID, and so on," McGregor added.


19 safe communities by year end

"Between now and the rest of the year, we would have created 19 safe communities. We will ensure that they stay that way, and we will walk around with those communities on our backs and sell them [as models] to the other communities," charged McGregor, who is widely acknowledged for bringing order to a tough west Kingston division while being commander.

He said that the nature of the community would dictate how programmes would be crafted for the police and the social agencies to operate.

McGregor made it clear that the move to establish safe communities was not an operational plan.

He said that the initiative would go in tandem with other operations that would take place within the police division.

Nonetheless, McGregor said that area leaders and gang leaders would be among those targeted as they sought to bring law and order to communities.

"Either they're going to join us; they go jail; they run away; or, because of their behaviour, something else happen to them ... ," the tough-talking cop warned.

Quizzed on whether there would be need for additional resources, including more personnel to execute the plan, McGregor said that he has the full backing of Commissioner George Quallo, who, he said, is "committed".