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Builders urged to consider police access when planning new housing developments

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 27, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of National Security Peter Bunting has urged developers and the planning department of parish councils to be mindful of the importance of allowing the police access to wherever new housing units are being constructed.

Minister Bunting made the call at yesterday's handing over of the Meadows of Irwin Police Post, which was constructed at a cost of $12 million by West Indies Home Contractors (WIHCON).

"We appeal, for example, to developers and indeed those who are giving building permits to take into account quick access responsiveness of police personnel; the ability to drive to a particular gate or address and respond very quickly," Bunting said, pointing out that response time is compromised where there exists only narrow paths.

"We found, for example, that in the past when schemes were built and you had a lot of footpaths for access to internal housing units, it creates a serious policing challenge," the security minister argued.

Residents who will occupy the 800 soon-to-be-completed homes in the community stand to benefit greatly from the opening of the police post. Prior to its construction the nearest police station would have been at Freeport, some miles away.

Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington — who in his remarks noted that carefully selected police officers who have been well trained and sensitised to the needs of the community will be assigned at the post — gave an assurance that the police's goal is to prevent crime in the community.

"What we want to achieve here and what we will use to measure the effectiveness of the police station here, is not the arrest numbers or seizure numbers. It is the absence of crime," the police commissioner said. "Traditionally, we tend to measure police effectiveness by the number of arrest."

Meanwhile, WIHCON Chairman Peter Melhado said passion and a singular focus on Jamaica's overall development drove the initiative.

"Given the difficult environment in which we find ourselves in Jamaica we have to innovate to find solutions to our many challenges," Melhado argued.

He said WIHCON was deeply committed to the communities that it develops.

This partnership is a testament to that commitment," the WIHCON chairman said.

Acknowledging that a substantial portion of the cost of construction was contributed by several key suppliers, who wholeheartedly endorsed the concept of a public-private partnership, Melhado said the police post was ergonomically designed to house up to 12 officers in comfort without sacrificing its effectiveness as an operating base.

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