Making St Mary great again

Making St Mary great again

Police division head says several programmes implemented to create safer environment

Observer staff reporter

Monday, October 28, 2019

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Head of the St Mary Police Division, Superintendent Bobette Morgan-Simpson and her team are determined to make the parish safe for residents and businesses.

Already, the team has implemented several programmes which are geared towards community development.

Morgan shared that at the beginning of the year, a domestic violence campaign was launched to help minimise cases in the parish.

“Domestic violence is one of the areas where we have challenges in St Mary; we find that we have a lot of disputes. These disputes stem from little things so we have partnered with the justice centre in Port Maria so we can do mediation,” Morgan told the Jamaica Observer North & East in an interview,recently, during a visit to the parish.

“Earlier on in the year, we had retired Deputy Commissioner [Novelete] Grant, who came into the parish, and over 70-odd stakeholders were trained in domestic violence intervention.

“These persons are drawn from several entities in the parish. People from the Church, the fire department, Salvation Army, and so on,” Morgan added.

She said, too, that widely publicised meetings are held regularly so that residents are afforded the opportunity to get to know the police officers who serve them.

“Some residents might see me on television and might hear that I am the superintendent, but I want them to put a face to the name and so we have these meetings,” she said.

According to Morgan, there is also a “safe school” programme that is currently being executed in the parish and this is geared towards helping students.

“We go into schools and do interventions. One of the issues we have from time to time is that gangs are being formed in schools. These students are sometimes coming out of the same communities where there may be issues. There are little factions in the school where they have this little group against another little group, and we have to also be in the streets. In Highgate, for instance, a lot of high school children meet there. It's like Highgate is the hub, so you find thousands of children congregating during the day after school,” she said while noting that sports programmes are also being used to deter children from going down the “wrong path”.

“The youth that are the problem youngsters are placed in a football programme, and we are working to see how we can get them to be more interested in things that are more of a benefit to them, rather than them being otherwise engaged.

“I have also spoken to my team in terms of getting a set of girls to engage in netball. Just as how we have the football for the boys, we want to do netball for the girls to see how best we can reach those who might be a little on the wayward side,” she said.

In addition to the domestic violence campaign, the safe school intervention, and meetings to familiarise residents with the members of the force, Superintendent Morgan-Simpson said that there is also a 'Pan di corner' meeting, which is more informal but is geared towards building a great relationship between residents and the police.

At this meeting the residents are informed about different policies, their rights as citizens, what they should expect from the police, and are given tips on personal safety.

These meetings, Superintendent Morgan said, are well appreciated by the general populace.

In regards to crime, Annotto Bay is the only hotspot, Superintendent Morgan told Observer North & East, recently.

“Last year this time 21 persons were murdered in the parish. To date, we have 15. We are down by nine. We have issues with shooting; we have three less than last year.

“In the case of rape, we are down. We had 19 cases of rape this time last year, now we have nine.

“Robberies are a major problem and we have gone on a campaign encouraging our business persons to be more careful in terms of how they operate. We have had several cases where persons have been relieved of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Persons are coming in different ways, shape and form to relieve persons of their money, and we are really encouraging persons to be more careful with their money and the securing of their properties,” she said.

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