The Burden Of Jamaica’s First ‘Safe Community’

Commendations must be extended to a small community in St Ann that has been declared Jamaica’s first ‘safe community’.

The designation ‘Safe Community’ given to Belle Air Phase 2, near Runaway Bay, does not mean there is no violence or crime there. Rather, it has been so designated after the police and the community have come up with social structures and community organizations that should help the community reduce criminality and easily identify and root out any behaviour that spoils the peace and law and order.

The concept, ‘safe community’, is driven by the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. It is considered a part of the efforts at community policing that puts an effort on communities lawfully securing and policing themselves and taking responsibility for law and order.

Belle Air Phase 2 got the designation during a ceremony last week when a welcome sign to the community was unveiled after a public function involving government agencies, representatives of civic groups, police and residents.

The community is relatively new, created 10 years ago mainly with households evicted from a squatter settlement elsewhere in Salem. It had a bad reputation as a known St Ann police trouble spot. Now, with help from the police, the community has indicated it wants order and safety. Thus, various organizations have been set up, including a police youth club, neighbourhood watch, consultative committee, curfew committee and the like.

The police have said they will keep their links to the community hoping, one suspects, to prevent the committees from going dormant or for the community to revert to its earlier characterization.

The police, of course, have an interest in making Belle Air 2 a shining example of safety and order if the concept of Safe Communities is to mean anything. But even more so, the people of that and neighbouring communities should know not just that other communities are watching but that they have the burden and proud objective and interest in preserving in what so many of them have invested, with the state agencies, a better community.

By Franklin McKnight

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