Bike squad is coming!

Bike squad is coming!

Police commissioner says quick response motorcycle team to help fight crime in Kingston

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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AN elite quick response motorbike team, similar to the one operating in Montego Bay, St James, which is helping to swiftly nab criminals, is soon to hit the streets of the Corporate Area.

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, addressing members of the Jamaica Diaspora during a virtual Citizen Safety Town Hall this week, said the team had done particularly well, especially during the country's experience with the coronavirus pandemic, in the western section of the island.

“In St James we have a robust, rapid response, motorbike-based team that responds quickly in the St James area to shootings, robberies and so on,” the police commissioner said.

According to Major General Anderson, a similar unit is a necessity for the Corporate Area.

“It's critical for us to roll out a quick response motorbike-based unit; we just very recently got the assets in to do [so] and so we are going through the process of building that out. It used to exist a very long time ago [but] it went away, now we are doing it and we are rolling it out within a particular structure. Our computer-aided dispatch system is being revamped and the match of those two allow us to track very specifically how well we respond to calls for service and how [fast we can be] present in the communities that we police,” he told the meeting.

In the meantime, he said additional help in making the unit successful would come through the JamaicaEye initiative, where cameras monitor public spaces across the island and assist the authorities in responding to a disaster, act of criminality or accident.

The quick response unit, which is another tool in the constabulary's crime-fighting arsenal, was launched in St James in 2019 as the security forces grappled with the increasing murders and other crimes within the parish. The initiative, dubbed the 'Elite Quick Response Unit', was unveiled by the high command of the St James police.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner said the force has been unfairly assessed over time.“The narrative, as it relates to crimes, has been conducted without looking at what is the legitimate capacity of the JCF, manned as it is, with the technology, budget and legislative support that it has. That has to be part of the narrative and question and so we have to certainly, in our transformation, look at that and answer those questions. When we look at what our legitimate capacity, then we have to measure that against what is legitimately expected of us and then see what additional capacity is necessary in order to deal with our circumstances,” he pointed out.

The commissioner said the extent of what is needed to bring the force up to par “needs to be part of a rigorous academic study”.

“We are in the process of engaging people to determine that, but in our own way we have determined a number of things [like] how many people we need, how our training and development is done, how do I reach 11,000 officers spread across the island? Clearly I have to reach them online as nine months ago that was almost novel...now it is par for the course. By mid-year we should have a lot of our stuff online to deliver training,” he told the forum.

According to Anderson, over the financial year, which ends this March, efforts have been geared towards the renovation and construction of 109 police facilities, of which 55 were completed, 26 are nearing completion and 28 are pending. Twelve of the number are new buildings.

“This is the kind of investment required if we really want a police force that can deliver some of the things we have been demanding of it. It's no point having our officers or our public going into broken down old buildings to try and get service from people who don't have a proper chair to sit on and nowhere to do anything, and hope that we are going to get the kind of result we want,” he noted.

In the meantime, he said the police's engagement with the diaspora needs to go up another notch.

“If the same discussions were having 15 years ago are the same we have now, then nothing has moved...and don't get me wrong. I am very grateful, on behalf of the JCF, for all the support the diaspora has given to us in terms of physical support for stations, groups send money to paint a station, to do something for a station but that's not the way you develop a structured police force.

“A structured police force has a maintenance schedule where we maintain our buildings per schedule, where you are not talking about we can't put out a police car because it doesn't have tyres. A police force that looks like that you can't ask them to deliver high-quality policing and service, it just doesn't match,” he said further.


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