OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Seventy youngsters from communities in St Ann recently participated in a week-long summer camp put on by the Community Safety and Security Department of the St Ann police.
One of the organisers of the summer camp, which is in its eighth year, Woman Sergeant Lorna Small, told the Jamaica Observer North East that one of the main objectives of the programme was to help improve relations between the police and citizens.
She said the children, who were from different communities, participated in a number of activities which included site visits to the Police Commissioner’s and the Prime Minister’s offices, both in St Andrew, and Cool Runnings Water Park in Negril, Westmoreland.
“It was a really fun camp, I really enjoyed myself and we got to go to a lot of fun places,” said an elated Jamel Stewart of Brown’s Town in the parish.
Stewart, who was attending the camp for the first time, said in addition to meeting a lot of other children and visiting interesting and historic sites, he also got to know more about the operations of the police force.
“Some people think that all police are bad, but the ones at the camp were really nice, and I also learnt more about them and their work; also the fire department and how they operate,” young Stewart explained.
Another participant, Jobenee Morris, who attends St Hilda’s High School and who has been attending the camp for five years, described the programme as very good. She pointed out that the camp exposes them to different things and also allows the children to build a relationship with the police.
“It is a very good programme for the youths and I really hope that it is something that is continued and that more children will benefit,” she said.
Commanding officer for the police’s Community Safety and Security Branch, Senior Superintendent James Forbes, during a closing ceremony hosted by Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, lauded the St Ann police team for staging a very successful camp.
“This programme being coordinated by the St Ann police for the last eight years has been absolutely wonderful. What we have been able to see are young children being properly guided, being motivated, being properly groomed in a level of discipline which is expected of young people,” SSP Forbes later told the Observer North East.
“What we have been able to do with the relationship and the kids is to give them an opportunity to see another side of police work. They may hear about arrests and police involved in shootings and so on, but they see this side of the police; the caring side, the mentoring side,” he added.
Forbes also made good on a promise he made some years ago to purchase all the textbooks for the participants who achieve the highest average at his/her school during the last school year.
Yanieke Lugg, who attends St Hilda’s High and averages in the 90s, was presented with a cheque to purchase all her textbooks. Forbes, while presenting the cheque to Lugg, encouraged the other campers to work hard so that they, too, can receive some assistance.
Head of the Area II Police Assistant Commissioner Elan Powell promised that the Area II Police would pay for all the school books for the highest achieving boy during next year’s camp.
Meanwhile, several other senior officers, including commanding officers for the parish, Senior Superintendent Carlton Wilson, Deputy Superintendents Dudley Scott, Gary Francis and Dwight Powell commended Sergeant Small and her team for their commitment to the programme.
Executive assistant at Dolphin Cove, Roger Kerr, said that his company was pleased to be involved with the programme and pointed out that for the last three years Dolphin Cove has hosted the closing ceremony where the children are feted.
“We are very involved in the community and we believe that the children are the future of the nation and we need to look out for them; so with the police’s involvement with the youth we found it to be a great collaboration,” he said.
During the closing ceremony, all the participants received back-to-school supplies as well as other gifts, including tours to attractions and vouchers to assist with other back-to-school items.