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Comfort level of schools up in St James

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — The comfort level of schools in St James has gone up, while truancy rates have fallen, since the implementation of enhanced security measures in the parish on January 18.

Operations Officer for the St James police division, Superintendent Gary McKenzie, told JIS News that the police's Community Safety and Security Unit had, from the outset, reassured schools in the parish that they would not be negatively impacted by the security measures.

“Generally speaking, I think that the comfort level has been raised so much more, certainly for teachers, students and parents. Previously, the police would have had to be visiting certain schools because of conflicts. We have seen where, although anecdotally so far, there is a decrease and almost total elimination,” he said.

“Previously, we had some students not going to school, and some of them were gathering at areas where they ought not to have been. What we saw was that gangsters were luring some of these teenage boys to be on corners, to be out of school, and that has become a thing of the past, which is a very good sign,” McKenzie said.

Principal of the St James High School, Joseph Williams, told JIS News that the enhanced security measures have helped to guarantee the safety of his students on their way to and from school.

“They are not negatively impacting the school. If this is going to bring back the place to be a friendly city, then let us have more. I am glad that the Government has done something, I have no problem with it,” Williams said.

Over in neighbouring Ramble in Hanover, Gregory Brown, Principal of the Knockalva Technical High School, which is at the border of Hanover, Westmoreland and St James, expressed full support, noting that any inconvenience encountered is far outweighed by the level of safety that the enhanced security measures guarantee for St James and adjoining communities such as Ramble.

“Given what is happening in St James and, by extension, in the west, it is my personal position that these bits of inconveniences are not too much of a high price to pay to bring us back to sanity and to bring us back to civility. I welcome the (increased security measures) because they protect lives,” he explained.

For her part, Davia Ramgeet-Robinson, headmistress of the Knockalva Agricultural School, also gave thumbs up to the operations, which she said were “not a hindrance” to the boarding institution's staff, including herself, who have to commute to and from Montego Bay daily.

“I don't feel harassed, and I am not in lengthy delays. It is fine. It is just a means of control and it is not (negatively) impacting my school at all. In fact, I feel that the place is a lot safer,” she said.

Ramgeet-Robinson said she has not received any praedial larceny (reports) in a long period at the school.

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