The Government will be moving to fully implement the Public Officials Protection System (POPS) Policy in the 2024/25 financial year.
The implementation will result in an overhaul of the age-old practice of assigning members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to provide close protection support for public officials.
Addressing the Private Security Regulation Authority’s (PSRA) annual conference on Saturday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, Minister of National Security Horace Chang noted that Protective Services is the second largest division in the JCF with approximately 600 members.
“There are many of our people in executive positions, both in government and the private sector and in critical areas like the justice system, who require someone to support them as a driver [or] aide-de-camp, so to speak, but that’s not a police job.
“The Government has articulated and put together the required policy. It has taken some time to be executed but we’re going to pursue to implement it fully in the new financial year,” Dr Chang said.
The POPS Policy was approved by Cabinet in September 2021 and is designed to deliver a systematic, practical and transparent approach, by providing the requisite level of protection to public officials against threats perceived, received or detected, as a consequence of the nature of the duties performed.
“Quite frankly, beyond our Head of State, the head of the executive – the Prime Minister and the head of the judiciary, who must receive close protection in an effective and proper way, everyone else who seeks close protection should come from an effective evaluation by the security personnel who understands this kind of activity, based on intelligence and assessment of the risk factors involved,” Dr Chang said.
“Outside of that, I think the private security industry can provide the personnel for that kind of protection. That job does not require a fully trained police professional,” he pointed out.
In preparation for the increased demand for close protection officers, Dr Chang informed that the JCF will provide special training and certification in defensive driving, proper use of force, weapon handling and empty-hand techniques to private security guards.
“Private security guards to be engaged in this type of service will be required to undergo routine vetting and security checks, including those in cash-in-transit. Those security guards involved in the cash-in-transit and close protection service will be given minimum standards by the regulatory authority,” he added.
Dr Chang noted that the private security industry is critical to Jamaica’s national security architecture, with about 280 companies and over 23,000 security guards.
Meanwhile, the minister urged industry members to invest in their health and well-being as security is a high-risk and high-pressure job.
“I know for many of you, physical fitness and exercise is already a regular discipline, but for others, it may be a challenge. Take time to balance your work and personal life so that you can be your best self. Make it your duty to consistently check your physical and mental health, and your relationship with family and friends,” he charged.