Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Barracks being retrofitted for cops out west

Published:Thursday | November 25, 2021 | 12:05 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, who heads Area One in the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF), says work is now taking place to complete the retrofitting of the barracks at the Montego Bay Police Station in Freeport, St James, to accommodate displaced police officer in the division.

Earlier this year, police officers who were occupying a rented premises in Torado Heights, Montego Bay, were forced to find alternative living accommodation after they were evicted from that location.

When contacted for an update on the situation with the displaced policemen, while he was not able to speak in detail on the matter, Chambers said the ongoing upgrade of the barracks at Freeport was approved by the Ministry of National Security and he expects the barracks will go a far way in supporting officers who have to travel far distances after completing their shift.

“What I would love is that the barrack facility at Freeport be completed so that at least they (the police officers) will get an opportunity to rest, rather than to proceed to travel immediately after a tour of duty,” said Chambers. “That would be ideal for me.”

The police high command initiated the upgrade work following a Sunday Gleaner story earlier this year which looked at the challenges in acquiring accommodation that is faced by many police officers, to include some fresh out of training school and personnel temporarily assigned to the region who live as far away as the Corporate Area, St Catherine and St Thomas.

Of the police officers displaced from Torado Heights, many are assigned to the two zones of special operations in St James and the tri-parish states of emergency (SOE), which spans Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.

Regarding those policemen, Chambers said that based on his information, most of them have found temporary accommodation while they await the completion of the barracks at Freeport. Some of them are being housed at the Trelawny divisional headquarters in Falmouth.

“Those who are travelling from out of town were directed to apply for subsistence to facilitate any additional expenses they incur,” explained Chambers. “When a person works long and hard, particularly in St James, and then have to travel in excess of 18 kilometres to go home, I have an issue with that.”

While noting that most of the officers who travel home tend to be those with family commitments, he said it is challenging for officers who, after putting in a hard day of work, have to turn around and travel long distances to get home to their families.

“The most we can do is to ensure that they are provided with the necessary subsistence as per force orders to treat with that,” said Chambers, who left no doubt that the well-being of the officers requires priority attention.

Corporal Rohan James, chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation, said he is satisfied with the effort being made to complete work at the Freeport station so that accommodation will not remain a major consideration for police officers who are based in Area One but live elsewhere in Jamaica.