'RECOGNISING hard work, awarding excellence' was the theme as 26 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and six civilians were saluted for their outstanding work in the St Mary Police Division on Sunday.
The awardees were applauded for their contributions to crime fighting and community relationships in the parish which recorded nine murders up to March 11, a 44 per cent decline from the same period last year.
The parish has also recorded reductions in all other major crimes so far this year with a 40 per cent decline in shootings, only one case of robbery and no reported case of rape.
An initiative of Inspector Nicola Lewis, who is in charge of the Annotto Bay Police Station, the award ceremony highlighted those who have served with distinction.
Lewis told the Jamaica Observer that the award ceremony was held to recognise the hard-working men and women under her charge as one way to boost their morals and encourage them.
According to Lewis, it was also designed to improve the relationship between the police and the community while improving the productivity of members of the JCF.
She stated that the initiative was first executed at the Gayle police station in 2021 and was fruitful as the moral of the members of the JCF improved and the relationship with the residents was also improved.
"When I was transferred to the Annotto Bay police station in 2022 the moral of the officers was not there, therefore this was introduced," said Lewis as she thanked the many business entities and individuals who supported the award ceremony.
Annotto Bay has become the hotspot for crime in St Mary over the past two years, with an increase in murders and robberies believed to be linked to gang conflicts.
The awardees included top performer Constable Sheldon Cargill, most outstanding constable woman Constable Lateshia Gordon; most outstanding supervisor Constable Marlon Garriques; and most outstanding sub-officer Woman Constable Sergeant Shevaune King.
Fifteen members of the divisions 'Operation Hardball Team', which was established to target illegal activities through division-wide operations, received special awards for operations during 2022-2023.