Regional

Students focus on police matters in St Ann debate

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014    

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STUDENTS from eight high schools across St Ann are engaged in a debating competition in the parish. The debate, which was launched on Monday, May 19, is organised by the St Ann police, through its Community Safety and Security Branch, as the law enforcers seek to strengthen public and private partnerships with the communities across the parish.

Run under the theme "Strengthening partnership through Dialogue", the competition is one of the ways through which the St Ann division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force will also be seeking to change the perception that many students hold of the

police force.

"We hope that the students will get a better understanding of what the JCF is about," Safe School Coordinator for St Ann Corporal Natalee Williams told the Jamaica Observer.

She said that the primary focus of the competition is to boost awareness among the students.

"We want them to see the JCF as the best career choice," she said, adding that many persons choose the police force as a career after everything else fails for them.

The competition is not only expected to boost awareness among the students, but also within their families and the communities at large.

Williams explained that with the students involved in carrying out valuable research, they will be able to share this information in their schools, households and communities, so people will better understand the duties of the police officer.

"We want it to help to bridge the gap between the police and the community. We also seek to create an avenue where students at the secondary level can research and debate matters affecting the society and law enforcement," Williams said.

The inaugural event runs until June 10, the organisers have said.

Aabuthnott Gallimore High and St Ann's Bay High schools were the first teams to play off in the competition, with opposing team St Ann's Bay High emerging victors. The moot was "The powers given to INDECOM have negatively impacted the performance and the morale of the police".

Williams said that the response from the schools participating in the competition has been "favourable" and that she expects the competition to create a positive influence among the participants.

"They are excited," she stated.

The involvement of boys in the competition is an exciting factor that the organisers are also anticipating.

Williams said that she also believes the competition will serve to motivate students, encouraging them to want to excel in two critical subject areas, Mathematics and English. With these subjects being part of the entry criteria of the JCF and with the competition aiming to get more persons to consider that career path, Williams felt that students would be more motivated in those subject areas.

At the launch, Williams was lauded for her initiative and hard work in creating the historic debating series which is not only a first for the parish of St Ann, but the Area Two police division which also includes Portland and St Mary.

"This is the start of something beautiful in St Ann," said Senior Superintendent of Police Yvonne Martin-Daley, head of the St Ann police.

Karlene Segree, education officer for Region Three in the Ministry of Education, said that the initiative was a great one supported by the ministry. Segree said she hoped the competition would spread to other areas.

In giving the main address at the launch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell, the head of Area Two, said he expected the competition to be a success.

He pointed out that debating encourages tolerance which leads to less violence. ACP Powell said that many conflicts arose from people's inability to critically analyse each other's argument.

The debating competition will become an annual event.

Among the judges are Franklin McKnight, James Walsh, Shanna Orr and Christine Badal McBean.

Patricia Coulbourne Whyte was a guest judge last week.

The main sponsor for the event is the Noranda Bauxite Partners. Other sponsors include Total Tools, Mongoose Jamaica, All Signs Limited, Hibiscus Lodge Restaurant and Hotel, Shaw Park Beach Resort and Sandals Resort.

Williams said that the support from the business community must be commended.

Students participating in the competition will be receiving numerous prizes.

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