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Dr Chang gives prescription forpolicing communities

Published:Wednesday | December 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Dr Horace Chang, the member of parliament for North West St James, is calling for a revised approach to community policing and social intervention.

"We cannot have the face of the police being a paramilitary person at all times," Chang said yesterday, as he addressed a Jamaica Labour Party press conference on the rise of crime at the party's Belmont Road, New Kingston, headquarters.

"Community policing is not just one friendly corporal or sergeant. I think we have to look at the whole training of the police force that interfaces with the public."

North West St James has been one of the hot spots in the recent rise in crime, and Chang said all professionals who relate to the inner city needed to be retrained.

He said the retraining should start with the behaviour of police personnel on station duty.

"These are the people who poor people meet first in policing. When you walk into a police station, these are the people you talk to," he said, "and if the reaction is negative, it reinforces the stigmatisation of the community." He said the mediation activities of previous years also needed to be revamped.

Chang said the lack of this intervention has led to small incidents escalating into more dangerous confrontations.

"It has been practised in sections, and at times we have had benefits," he said. "In the previous two years ... we had some good times."

He said the Community Safety and Justice Programme was given wider responsibility, but at the same budget, hence a drop in its effectiveness.

"Programmes like that need to be enhanced and reinforced in our inner-city communities," Chang said. He also noted the Squatter Upgrading Programme had been halted even though it had a positive impact on communities and gave the police easier access to patrol and assert law and order.