Tue | Nov 30, 2021

St James head elevated to senior superintendent

Now one of the youngest police commanders in the Caribbean

Published:Sunday | August 1, 2021 | 1:34 AMAdrian Frater - News Editor
Senior superintendent Vernon Ellis, commander of the St James Police Division
Senior superintendent Vernon Ellis, commander of the St James Police Division

WESTERN BUREAU:

Career police officer Vernon Ellis, who took command of the tough St James Police Division 40 months ago at the rank of superintendent, created history yesterday when he became one of the youngest police commanders in the Caribbean after he was promoted to the rank of senior superintendent.

The elevation of the 40-year-old Ellis, a native of the parish of Hanover, was greeted with much delight by numerous stakeholders across the western parish, who collectively share the view that he has made a major difference in dismantling the parish’s criminal infrastructure.

“He is one of the most approachable and most accessible police commanders we have ever had in St James. He is passionate about crime-fighting and he is willing to listen and always open to advice,” said Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I am extremely heartened by this news. He is probably one of the hardest-working police officers in Jamaica and he is bright.”

Ellis, a graduate of Herbert Morrison Technical High School in Montego Bay, has prepared himself well in terms of his academic readiness to pursue law enforcement at the highest level. After high school, he continued his education at the Montego Bay Community College, Northern Caribbean University, and The University of the West Indies, in addition to numerous law enforcement training courses overseas.

“This is my calling, I am passionate about serving my country in law enforcement,” said Ellis, who took a mere 11 years to climb through the ranks from probationer to senior superintendent. “I am from a law enforcement family… my father was a policeman, he retired at the rank of detective sergeant. I also have an aunt and an uncle who were police officers and my brother is a member of the military.”

While he has two decades before him in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and is just a mere two ranks away from the very top position, Ellis, albeit ambition-driven, is not focusing in that direction just yet.

“I am passionate about serving my country and believe giving of my very best will bring me whatever success there is to be had in this organisation,” he told The Sunday Gleaner. “What I really hope is that my success will inspire other young men here in western Jamaica to see the JCF as a viable option, if you join the organisation and are willing to work hard.”

SUCCESS IN ST JAMES

In looking at his tenure in St James, which started in 2017, when the parish was seeing an unprecedented crime wave with a record 335 murders in one year, Ellis said he was somewhat wary when he was asked to take on the task.

“There is a saying that ‘no king is honoured in his own country’, and besides that, St James is arguably the nation’s toughest police division because the criminals here have access to vast amounts of cash, which allow them to buy guns and finance gangs,” said Ellis. “While I have not had all the success I wanted since I came, except for murders, we have been seeing a reduction in the other major crimes. Also, we manage to get to a point where we are getting unbelievable support from the volatile communities, which has allowed us to break the backs of many gangs, arrest top criminals, and seize numerous firearms.”

Having successfully smashed the once-feared Flankers-based Sparta gang and significantly degraded other gangs such as the G-City outfit, seizing record numbers of illegal firearms in the process, Ellis believes St James is now at a point where criminals can no longer operate with impunity.

“I have a competent team working with me and with most of our operations being intelligence-driven, criminals are now under siege and as you would have noticed, many have been incarcerated while others have fled because of the unrelenting pressure,” said Ellis. “The people of St James have been giving me unbelievable support and my mission is to reward them with a fairly safe parish, as soon as possible.”

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com