Jamaicans urged to heed emergency orders

Jamaicans urged to heed emergency orders

Saturday, March 28, 2020

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HEAD of the constabulary's Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay is urging Jamaicans to abide by the emergency orders issued by the Government to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which are enforceable by the police.

SSP Lindsay says it is critical that members of the public play their role as citizens during this time of crisis, even as those on the frontline seek to keep Jamaicans safe not just in relation to COVID-19, but through general law enforcement, which must be maintained, despite the outbreak.

“We want to say to members of the public that this is a health crisis, so now is not the time to not obey. It is important that they obey all the instructions that are given by the Government, and the instructions given by the police. It's not just about law enforcement now, its about personal responsibility, so we want people to understand that when the Government says an area is quarantined, it means that they're to stay home, they're not to roam about,” she insisted, in a Jamaica Observer interview.

SSP Lindsay emphasised that when an area is quarantined, “this is a way to save lives”.

She added: “It's not that the police intends to be oppressive, it's not that the police just doesn't want you to move about, but it is a national safety issue and, as law enforcement, we are responsible for supporting the ministry and all the other systems.”

She said based on the global situation, Jamaica has no choice but to fall in line with measures to protect the population. She expressed frustration with those who continue to disobey the new orders. “People are still trying to have events; people are still opening bars, allowing gatherings of more than 10.”

SSP Lindsay noted also that business operators must follow the guidelines, and that people in breach will be prosecuted. However, she said arrests and prosecutions are not the route the police want to take during this time of national crisis.

“Now is not a time when we want to go around prosecuting people. We really just want to keep Jamaica safe, because in addition to COVID we are still carrying on our daily policing functions, so whatever citizens can do to make everything much easier in the interest of health and safety, that's what we want,” she urged.

Meanwhile, she said members on the frontline are being heavily supported at this time, as the Jamaica Constabulary Force began preparations for the coronavirus months before Jamaica had its first confirmed case.

“We continue to lend support to our members on the front line through sensitisation training as well as providing them with supplies to help keep them safe. The medical services branch is on board, as well as the chaplaincy, administration, and the high command. The commissioner also conducts video conferencing [when] speaking to the members. So we have been doing a lot to keep our members safe and motivated,” she outlined.

She said those members who are in the high-risk health categories, and can work from home, are being allowed to do so.

SSP Lindsay said members on the front line such as those manning divisions where there are states of emergency, are encouraged to be guided by the Ministry of Health's protocols to avoid contact and to maintain the recommended three feet social distance as much as is possible.

— Alphea Saunders

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