Westmoreland police head welcomes PSOJ-led care package initiative


Westmoreland police head welcomes PSOJ-led care package initiative

Observer West writer

Thursday, July 09, 2020

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland - Commanding officer for the Westmoreland Police Division, Superintendent Robert Gordon, has described the recent distribution of almost 500 care packages by the Private Sector Organisation (PSOJ), in collaboration with the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) and other stakeholders, to residents in vulnerable communities across the parish, as an initiative which will help to bridge the gap between residents and the police.

“The communities serviced in Grange Hill, Negril, White House, Darliston and Savanna-la-Mar were some of our most troubled areas, we, the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force], see it [distribution of care packages] as an opportunity to build bridges where needed, and mend fences where needed, so we thought it was an excellent move,” said Superintendent Gordon.

He noted that there are several communities that lie in close proximity to the resort town of Negril which rely on the tourism sector for a livelihood.

“We have communities like Nonpariel, White Hall and Good Hope, just to name a few, that are located off the main roads in Negril. These communities had residents who were affected by the closure of the tourism industry in March, as a result of the novel coronavirus,” the superintendent noted, adding that “in addition to these, in Grange Hill we have vulnerable communities Kings Valley, Mint Road, Crowder, Top Lincoln and Duckie Street”.

He added that while there is a genuine need for assistance in those communities, there were not enough packages to present to all of those in need.

And despite the high level of unemployment in Westmoreland, Gordon noted that in recent months there has been a marked reduction in major crimes in the parish.

Westmoreland, he said, recorded 33 major crimes up to the end of May this year, compared to 46 during the corresponding period in 2019.

Gordon stressed that while he is content to note that major crimes have been trending downwards in recent years, there is still much work to be done. He emphasised that conflict resolution will play a major role in keeping crime figures down.

“Violence impact crime, we need to find a cordial way to treat situations other than choosing violence,” said the superintendent, highlighting that projects like these [distribution of the care packages] will help to build community police relations.

“Instead of conflict, talk to someone, the church, the police and any other entity. Don't allow it to fester, whether it is domestic abuse or any other situation, we must try to be more tolerant and find other ways,” he urged.

The PSOJ-led distribution of care packages began in April, as part of efforts to cushion the blow caused by COVID-19.

To date, several communities in seven parishes across the island have benefited under the initiative.

“Communities were chosen based on various variables,” Choleen Daley-Muschett, public relations and marketing manager of the PSOJ, told the Jamaica Observer West.

“We partnered with Mona GeoInformatics Institute who highlighted the most vulnerable communities using the categories, poverty, elderly persons, persons with chronic diseases, number of unemployed persons and crime levels. A combination of these variables then determined the 25 most vulnerable communities. We then partnered with the JDF [ Jamaica Defence Force] who dealt with the overall logistics and the JCF, who lead on distribution,” she explained.

Copeland Bailey, representative of the Grange Hill Community Development Committee, said the residents are grateful for the assistance, but “more packages were needed as the situation far outweigh what was provided”. He told the Observer West that other communities such as Alma, Causeway, Mount Eagle and Paul Island were not serviced, while only a few people in Fullersfield received packages.

“Most of the households affected were heavily dependent on the tourism industry. Many of these people lost their jobs due to corona. Everybody is home now, so clothing is not the issue, food is very important, so this has been very beneficial,” he argued.

Daley-Muschett stated that “there will be bi-weekly donations in each community and this will continue until the end of this month. She added that if more funds become available, the period will be extended.

“Anyone can donate via the PSOJ website and Gofundme account or via the website of Stand For Me Jamaica,” she said, noting that while several member organisations donated to the fund, staff of some of these organisations made personal contributions.

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