New St Ann top cop pledges to address vehicle, personnel shortages
The newly minted commander in charge of the St Ann Police Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Small, has committed to having dialogue with the police commissioner in an effort to fix the shortage of police vehicles and personnel across the parish.
SSP Small, formerly of the police intelligence unit, assumed duties as the new divisional head on Monday, May 6, from Senior Superintendent Michael Smith.
Smith, who has been credited for leading a public order campaign in St Ann early last year, which resulted in declines in major crimes, including murder, has been transferred to the Area Two police headquarters.
At last Thursday's meeting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation, where SSP Small was introduced, councillors raised concern about the vehicle shortage that has been affecting some police stations in the parish, such as Ocho Rios and Cave Valley. Some councillors also expressed the need for more police presence in some areas.
In responding to the issues, SSP Small said he has been assessing the situation affecting the parish, and will be making the necessary applications to Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson.
"I have been doing an assessment of the parish; a comprehensive assessment, and looking at the resources that we have, and I will be making the necessary application for vehicle and personnel and other equipment," he indicated.
SSP Small added: "I am confident that our commissioner is someone who, once you put in your reasoning to him, I believe that we will get some help."
Meanwhile, head of operations for the St Ann police, Deputy Superintendent Rudolph Taylor, informed councillors at the meeting that crime continues its downward trend in the parish.
Up to Thursday, May 9, police statistics revealed that 13 murders were recorded in St Ann so far this year, which compared to 14 killings which were recorded for the corresponding period last year.
"The crime situation is not as bad, just to say that we have levelled out in terms of the number of crimes reported last year. We are actually on par with those numbers. Where murders are concerned, that is always an area of interest nationally. We are just one less than we were last year. We are now accounting for 13," DSP Taylor outlined.
Despite the relatively low crime figures for the parish, the operations chief said his team of officers will be stepping up operations across the division in effort to further reduce the crime rate.
In relation to the ongoing construction activities at the RIU Hotel expansion in Mammee Bay and road improvement works in neighbouring Steer Town, a former hot spot for crime in St Ann, DSP Taylor said the police will be monitoring activities at both locations. This is due to scores of persons seeking jobs, especially at the hotel expansion location.
Earlier this year, a safety manager employed at the hotel construction site, 43-year-old Joseph Gordon of Glendevon, St James, was shot dead near his place of employment in Mammee Bay.
However, since that fatal incident, the police have brought things under control, and have indicated that they will be further manning the area as development activities continue there.