NEGRIL, Westmoreland - An additional 20 police personnel will be deployed to the Negril Police Station over the next two months to bolster the crime -fighting capabilities in the popular tourist resort.
The decision was made following a meeting last week in that town which involved Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, members of the hierarchy of Jamaica Constabulary Force, business leaders and other members of the community.
Immediately after the lengthy meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations Grenmore Hinds announced that personnel at the Negril police station will be beefed up by almost 50 per cent.
"The truth of the matter is after (Deputy Commissioner) Mr Hinds reviewed the matter of the Negril Police Station, he immediately committed to increase the level of staffing by about 50 per cent over the next two months. By the end of April we should be adding another 20 or so personnel between regular, some constables and some district constables. And some of that will come in before the end of March," Bunting disclosed.
He noted that the additional deployment of police is targeted to "help reduce harassment on the beaches, as well as crime in the surrounding areas".
The national security minister also promised to increase the number of police vehicles assigned to the Negril Police Station in a bid to enhance patrolling of the West End area.
" If we have more deployment.. more mobility, it may not necessitate a physical police post, so we could cover this from additional patrols," Bunting said, in response to calls by citizens for a police post to be established in the West End area.
Negril is renown for white sand beaches and exotic hotels.
Commander for the Police Area One ACP Devon Watkis noted that the steady increase in population in Negril has given rise to the need for more police personnel.
" The citizens of Negril have expressed concern about the number of police personnel there. The growth of the population versus the number of police and some trend dictated that if we don't do something about it, it is likely to contribute to more crimes being committed," ACP Watkis said.
And noting that the Westmoreland Police Division is one of the few divisions across the island where there has not been a reduction in murders since the start of this year, the security minister argued that there is a need to prevent "that concern" to spread to the resort area of Negril.
" We have a concern in Westmoreland as a police division, not so much in Negril to be honest with you, but we are being pre-emptive. We don't want to wait until there is as big problem".
But ACP Watkis later disclosed that several initiatives are being implemented to reduce the number of murders in the parish.
"Westmoreland at the early part of this year has been a little challenging. Whilst all other crimes have been down, murders have been up by about one or two. We have taken steps to contain and reduce that and we are doing some programmes to get the people to be able to resolve most of the dispute in a more organised way," he explained.
Meanwhile, President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce and Industry Damian Salmon has expressed his delight at the planned increase in police personnel at the Negril Police Station.
" We are very pleased the minister (Bunting) was able to commit more police in the Negril area," said Salmon. As he committed to increase the numbers, we committed to assist in making them as comfortable as possible by renovating the existing police station, specifically the barracks."