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Police officers beam with pride at dedication service for new building

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Online reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

DESPITE ongoing wage wars, traffic pile-ups, 'sick-outs', and other issues that have thrust the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) into the spotlight, police officers yesterday beamed with pride at the dedication service for the “almost completed” Police Headquarters on the grounds of the Office of the Commissioner of Police on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

Commissioner of Police George Quallo, while speaking at the service which was held in the building's conference room, informed that, although the building was not ready, it was “time for us to dedicate this building to the power and kingdom of God”.

He indicated that with the dedication of the building, which was dubbed a “game-changer” for the JCF, everything else would fall into place.

The commissioner also pointed out that the construction of the building has come a far way since the original structure was condemned in 1981.

“We are not where we want to be, but I believe that with dedicated men and women, who work tirelessly every day to ensure that this building is where it is at... I am confident that within short order that it will be fully functional,” Quallo said.

He also pointed out that much of the construction was done by members of the police force.

“This building is a part of moving forward. Last year we celebrated 150 years of existence and that is no easy feat,” he said while acknowledging the contribution of former police commissioner Dr Carl Williams to the advancement of the JCF.

Acting inspector in charge of communications at the JCF, Dahlia Garrick, also said that sections of the new Police Headquarters, on which construction began in 2015, have been completed, however, there were other “fine-tuning” that needs to be done.

Garrick was unable to disclose the total cost associated with the construction of the building, especially since police officers were responsible for most of the labour on the building.

Inspector Diane Bartley, who is also from the communications arm of the JCF, Corporate Communications Unit, said that the building will house all senior officers, including deputies and heads of departments, as well the headquarters for the Criminal Investigation Branch.

Meanwhile, during his address, Commissioner Quallo said, “Last year was a very challenging year for us as JCF members and I have no doubt that this year is going to be equally challenging, but I am also convinced that with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm.”

He encouraged the members to: “Leave the baggage of 2017 in 2017. It makes no sense carrying it over if we are going to succeed as an organisation, and as a nation, we must start seeing things positively and to see things moving in the right direction.

“While I understand the challenges that face many of my colleagues, especially the more junior ones, we have a responsibility to police our nation, especially during the festive season, because this is the time of the year when we close office and deploy as much as we can because we recognise the need,” he told the Observer while speaking specifically to what has been reported as an organised “sick-out” by rank and file members of the police force in relation to wage negotiations with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

He added: “It really put a strain on an already overburdened workforce, but we will get through this one.”

In her update, Inspector Garrick said of the approximately 2,730 members that called in sick, “most, if not all persons have returned to work, so there is now a sense of normalcy”.

Also in attendance at the dedication service was state minister with responsibility for correctional services, Pearnel Charles Jr, who also commented on the matter.

“I do appreciate that they want to agitate for their own particular interest, and I think it's a part of our democracy and its important that they're allowed to do so in ways that are within the law,” said Charles, while thanking the JCF for their dedicated service.

However, he pointed out that the interest of the country must come first.

“As a Government, it is not difficult to understand how important the role of the police is and also that they definitely deserve much more than what they are now receiving,” he said.

The State minister highlighted that the “real issue” is whether the Government can afford it.

“We have to figure out how to move forward within our fiscal constraints in the way that is acknowledging the people that we are asking to go out on the front line, and also figuring how to stick to a plan that is going to cause us to be in a place of stability,” Charles said.