Jamaica Gleaner / The out-of-control crime rate has not escaped the minds of Jamaicans, but at least two recruits expected to join the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) shortly say they will not be daunted by the ongoing tactics being employed by criminals. Instead, they have vowed to use their training to protect the nation’s citizens.

Earlier this year, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Ministry of National Security signed a memorandum of understanding through which the university will facilitate the training of 3,000 police recruits over three years.

Twenty-one-year-old Jerome Lewis, who was among more than 200 recruits at a ceremony held yesterday at the UWI, said he believes there is still hope for Jamaica to see crime-free days.

“I want to do better for my country and family. I really believe I have a duty to give back to my country and help my fellow citizens. I’m pretty sure the training will help me to tackle situations like those because I do want to be able to handle myself when those incidents (criminal activities) come,” Lewis told The Gleaner .

“Ever since I left high school, I have always wanted to be an officer (of the law).”

Camilla Cross, 26, had a similar story. She said she was looking forward to the opportunities that will be garnered from serving in the JCF.

“I really think it’s a good career opportunity for upward mobility. Sometimes I get a bit daunted, especially with what is going on with crime, but I am confident that the training I get will prepare me for that,” she said.

“This is a dream come true because I have always wanted to be a police officer. I want to get a feel of what the job is like and opportunities that are available to me.”

In the meantime, National Security Minister Robert Montague said the Government has recognised the many challenges facing the JCF and will work earnestly to address them.

“The police force is currently operating at 70 per cent of its strength. We are short 3,000 officers and every year approximately 550 officers leave the force, and the capacity to train was not there at the JCF. Thousands of Jamaicans want to be officers, but the problem is the space to train them,” the minister said.

“We did a survey as to why officers are leaving the police force and the number one reason coming out of that survey was poor working conditions. The ministry is working on that, and so the permanent secretary has been able to acquire $250,000 to (give) 161 police stations to do routine maintenance.”

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