Changing of the guard in Manchester Police DivisionWednesday, July 14, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — As he prepares to depart after leading the Manchester Police Division for 20 months, Superintendent Gary Francis is expressing satisfaction for a marked reduction in crime during his tenure.
“[We] recorded a 23 per cent reduction in major crimes for last year, when compared to the previous year and this included a reduction in murder. And [there was more that a] 70 per cent clear up in the whole aspect of crime investigation,” Francis, a 29-year veteran of the constabulary, told the Jamaica Observer during an exclusive interview on Monday.
The downward trend had continued this year inclusive of a 38 per cent reduction in murder, said Francis.
“As it is now, we are halfway through the year and [of] the major crimes in the parish, most are recording reductions, five of the seven categories are recording reductions including murder with a 38 per cent reduction, as at [July 12],” he said.
Francis, who previously served the St Andrew South Police Division before he was placed Manchester in October 2019, is being transferred to the Police Emergency Communication Centre, effective July 19.
He is being replaced by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Lloyd Darby with whom he has worked closely since his coming to this south-central parish.
Francis said the reduced crime figures largely reflected his intent on arrival.
“My objective in Manchester [was] to further the organisation goal and key among them was crime prevention, reduction and control,” he said.
This, he said, was achieved through support and partnerships with multiple stakeholders.
He said staff morale in the police division was boosted through various initiatives.
“We managed to utilise a number of methods to improve the welfare of our members. We also had two award ceremonies recognising members for different reasons and that [went very well with the membership,” said Francis.
Among those applauding Francis's leadership is Custos of Manchester Garfield Green.
“He came shortly after I became custos and I found him to be a very effective manager, one who I think can implement policies, develop strategies and be a very effective leader. I found [that] he communicated with everyone at all levels in a professional way,” said Green.
Francis said the fear of crime among citizens is reduced through communication.
Manchester for years recorded scores of murders stemming from domestic disputes, which he said required special attention.
“We have worked with a number of stakeholders, including the Dispute Resolution Foundation and a number of local [stakeholders], the Office of the Custos, the Northern Caribbean University, to help us in dealing with these matters,” he said.
“For the most part, I believe we would have been able to build on what we came here and saw,” he added.
When asked about his most challenging time as commander, he reflected on the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I came here in October of 2019 and just a few months after that, we had [the onset of the novel coronavirus] pandemic and that came with a number of uncertainties. A number of our members were out on quarantine and stay-at-home order depending on what was happening and that impacted us significantly, because we had far less resources to work with and far more things to respond to. We managed to treat with that,” said Francis.
He thanked the men and women in the police division, residents and the media for their support during his tenure.
He said there is room for infrastructural upgrade and improvement at the divisional headquarters, which he had wished to complete during his tenure.
Francis believes DSP Darby is suited for the task of leading the Manchester Division.
“He is fully aware of the overall policing plan. He is aware of the general area [and] people, understands the tactics and the different areas that we have to achieve the goal,” said Francis.
Darby has served for several years as head of operations for the Manchester police.
“I am looking forward to the challenge. I have been in the Manchester Division as the operations officer, so I would know a lot about the [parish], our challenges as it [relates] to crime and public order. I am willing and able to face those challenges and see how we can minimise them,” said Darby.