Bellaire II is Jamaica's first safe community

Observer staff reporter

Monday, June 11, 2018

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RESIDENTS of Bellaire II, a community in Runaway Bay, St Ann, are excited to be living in the country's first 'safe community'.

The safe community initiative, which was launched by the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in 2017, is expected to significantly reduce crimes in the community.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Steve McGregor, head of the CSSB, expressed joy last Tuesday when the programme was launched in Bellaire II.

“I am overwhelmed; this is what empowering a community is about,” he said.

ACP McGregor pointed out that over 10,000 arrests were made annually by the police, hundreds of guns seized and many curfews put in place; however, over 1,000 people are killed annually.

He said the safe community initiative is expected to have a positive impact on the communities in which it is launched by allowing citizens to be active in the fight against crime and violence.

“The solution to crime and violence in this country rests right in the communities where it exists,” he said.

The safe community will be guided by six major pillars, which include: a curfew programme, which will see children 17 years and younger off the street by 9:00 pm nightly; a Police Youth Club, which is expected to engage these teenagers; an active neighbourhood watch programme within the community; an active consultative committee; a safe school programme; and a mentorship programme, which will help parents with deviant children.

All these pillars are already active in the Bellaire Two community, making the community the first safe community across the island. The committees for the various groups were introduced at the safe community launch on Tuesday.

ACP McGregor said the community will get support from all social groups to ensure the success of the programme. He also promised that the community will have a resource centre soon.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP)Michael Smith said he was happy that the first safe community was being launched in the parish which he heads.

He said the idea was to train 50 people to effectively implement the six pillars in the community; however, residents were committed and optimistic about the programme, resulting in 120 people participating in the training and certification exercise.

SSP Smith said the groups are already active and are “carrying out their function as watchdogs” in the community.

He congratulated the residents for taking interest in policing themselves.

“You are the heroes and heroines. You are the pioneers and trendsetters,” he said.

Amanda Lee, a resident of the community, informed that residents welcome the initiative.

“It is a good thing for the young people. One time me did want this when my big son was giving me trouble,” the mother said.

The programme is being carried in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Comet II programme.

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