Western News

'I disagree'

Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell opposes splitting St James into two police divisions

Observer West reporter

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A senior Constabulary Force officer is dead set against the highly touted plan to split the St James Police Division into two, namely St James North and St James South.

In 2016, then Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams disclosed that the move was to tackle scammers and other criminals who have been operating across the parish.

However, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ealan Powell is now expressing the view that an additional division would be a waste of resources.

Positing that over 80 per cent of the criminal activities are committed in the northern areas of St James, Powell stated that it would call for more administrators to staff the new divisional headquarters in the south, arguing that those resources would be better served for patrols.

“If someone asks me, I would say that's not a good idea — my personal opinion. If you split St James into two, the easiest way to split it would have to be to have a St James North and a St James South. Eighty per cent of the happenings in St James takes place in St James North. So you would have to have a police headquarters in St James South that would be manned with all kind of administrative functions. If we have one headquarters, those police could be used for patrol rather than to sit in office doing administrative work. So cutting it into two, really for me, is not the greatest idea,” ACP Powell argued.

He suggested that the parish should be zoned with different commands, noting that zoning would not require the setting up of any administrative office.

“... So you have different zones with different commands in different zones. You wouldn't have to put up an administrative office for the commands. So, like Cambridge down to Anchovy could be one zone; Maroon Town on the other side, another zone,” ACP Powell, who is a native of St James, suggested.

He argued that the zoning concept works successfully in several other police divisions such as St Ann.

“Most divisions have substations. St Ann has Brown's Town, which is a subdivision that controls Alexandria, Watt Town, Cave Valley and all the hills. One officer there is responsible to report to the commander at St Ann's Bay; Ocho Rios has Ocho Rios, Claremont and Moneague. So Discovery Bay, Runaway Bay and St Ann's Bay has another subdivision, and that works,” ACP Powell noted.

ACP Powell was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) held at the chamber's Overton headquarters in Montego Bay, St James, Tuesday evening, where he responded to a query as to whether the split of the division is still on.

ACP Powell, who is the JCF commander for the state of public emergency in St James, noted that he recently heard that the cutting of the division is still being considered.

“The last thing I heard on it, which wasn't long ago, I heard somebody asking the present commissioner if it is still being considered,” he said.

Last year, then Minister of National Security Robert Montague reportedly said most of the administrative work on the separation had been completed.

At the time, Montague noted that efforts were being made to locate space to accommodate the cops.

However, he said that the biggest challenge is having an adequate amount of police personnel to staff the new division.

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