More soldiers for western JamaicaWednesday, October 26, 2016
BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Government has announced plans to augment the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) in western Jamaica in an effort to have speedier and more effective response to any violent upsurge in that section of the island.
According to Security Minister Robert Montague, the Andrew Holness-led administration will be embarking on a massive recruitment drive to shore up the membership of the JDF.
"...And we are also going to recruit more persons in the army and base more persons from the army in Montego Bay and in western Jamaica so when there is a problem we don’t have to be sending people down here; they will be down here already," the security minister said.
Montague did not elaborate on whether there would be a training camp established in the west, or merely another base to augment the one currently at Flanker in Montego Bay.
Last month during an upsurge in murders in the St James Police Division, three additional companies of soldiers were deployed in the area to assist members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Montague, who was on Sunday addressing a Western Leadership Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the West Jamaica Conference in Mount Salem, St James, conceded that by international standards, the St James Police Division is short of 300 members, while there is an overall shortfall of 600 in Area 1, which spans the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
Recent efforts to beef up the police deployment in St James, was hampered by the polygraph test failure of a batch of 200 recruits, Montague said.
"And when Andrew Holness and myself and Cabinet decided we must double the intake of police officers for this year … we decided to give everybody that is going in a lie detector test. And out of 200, we lost 88. Eighty-eight failed the lie detector test. So it gives us a little setback," the security minister explained.
" So we have to begin to deal with and treat with the problem of corruption from early, and to make sure that the right persons join the police force."
Montague committed that by the end of the year, "we want to boost the numbers in Montego Bay".
Meanwhile, during Sunday’s Western Leadership Conference speaker after speaker lauded the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the good work they are doing to promote peace in communities across the country.
However, both Montague and St James North Member of Parliament Dr Horace Chang said that enough is not being done by the Church fraternity in tackling crime.