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Cops to get training in community policing

Wednesday, September 14, 2011    

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MEMBERS of the Jamaica Constabulary Force are to get training in community policing at the University of the West Indies Open Campus, a move which Police Commissioner Owen Ellington says will help his men to "combat crime".

One hundred local police officers and another 100 policemen from across the region will be trained in the first of two 13-week courses to be delivered online beginning next month. An estimated 7,000 police regionally are to be trained.

Speaking Monday at the launch of the UWI Open Campus Community Policing Programme (CPP) in the Council Room, UWI, Mona, Ellington admitted that Jamaica has "an extraordinary high rate of violent crime but it is difficult for the police to enforce law, defeat gangs and respond to new and emerging threats such as terrorism without the cooperation of communities".

The CPP, he said, is expected to help build "strong, safe, confident communities where citizens trust and embrace their police".

The CPP encompasses Community Policing 1 (COP1), which -- with special attention to the Caribbean context — will provide a historical overview of the practice and introduce participants to the major perspectives, principles and methods of community policing. Community Policing 2 (COP2) will see participants applying the knowledge gained in COP1 to develop a community policing plan in collaboration with their respective communities.

Principal of the UWI Open Campus, Professor Hazel Simmons-McDonald, hailed the new courses as "a collaborative effort between the Open Campus and the Jamaica Constabulary Staff College (JCSC) that will address a critical need across the region".

Noting that the Jamaica Constabulary Staff College brought to the UWI Open Campus's attention, "the dire need for the training of policemen in community-based policing as a complement to the traditional form of policing", Pro Simmons-McDonald said: "We are happy for the opportunity to collaborate with the constabulary, to develop and deliver programmes relevant to immediate and future needs of the communities we serve".

The JCSC, in association with the British Department for International Development (DFID), is contributing funding and training personnel for the programme, which is open to police across the Caribbean.

Vice Chancellor of the UWI, Prof E Nigel Harris hailed the programme as "a marvellous demonstration of how the UWI works with other training institutions, not only in Jamaica but across the Caribbean, to meet specific needs of communities and groups".

Speaking in his capacity as chair of the Police Services Commission, UWI Mona Principal Prof Gordon Shirley praised the JCF for "a series of ambitious programmes aimed at transforming the police force, which are making serious headway in some of the most difficult areas".

Geraldine O'Callaghan, head of the DFID, said that "lack of security is one of the obstacles to unlocking Jamaica's potential and online courses are critical in training a wider community in Jamaica and across the Caribbean".

The CPP is being introduced by the UWI Open Campus against the background of a perceived need to shore up traditional forms of policing by forging partnerships between police and communities for more effective crime prevention.

Community policing is being successfully used in a number of international communities and it is hoped that the strengthening of the Caribbean's police in new methodologies of crime prevention will lead to reduced social unrest and enhanced public safety.

The online delivery of the CPP by the UWI Open Campus provides the opportunity for active duty officers in the region to be trained cost-effectively, without disruption of their normal duties.

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