Municipal enforcement is concerned with enforcement of local laws and retaining civic order. Over the past ten (10) years, Municipal Police Units have been established in each Council and have demonstrated that they provide an invaluable service to an arm of the Councils. It is envisioned that the Municipal Police Force will be strengthened as the multifunctional body to maintain civic order; enforce municipal laws and regulations; secure and protect the property, personnel and equipment of Local Authorities; and investigate claims and other matters on behalf of the Local Authorities.
The deployment of Municipal Police Training programme forms part of the Local Government Reform Process wherein the intent is to ensure that each local government authority has the requisite trained and authorized personnel to administer all the laws and regulations falling under their jurisdiction.
The use of the Municipal Police started in the Local Authorities in 1999. The move was primarily to assist in enhancing the capacity of the Local Authorities in the maintenance of public order and improvement in their revenue collections, thereby enabling them to execute their legislative functions more efficiently and effectively. In 1999, not many councils adopted the training and use of the municipal police. The primary ones were Manchester, St. Thomas and to a lesser extent St. James and KSAC.
For a number of differing reasons, the development of the municipal police was stymied until in 2008. Since then approximately thirteen (13) training sessions have been held in conjunction with the Jamaica Constabulary Force Training Academy at Twickenham Park. Over Two Hundred trainees have graduated from the programme and are now working in all the local authorities. The training takes place over a six week period and covers areas such as:
- Roles and Responsibilities of the Local Authority
- Introduction to Constitutional Law
- Code of Ethics
- Public Health Act
- Sale of Goods Act
- Building Act and Compliance
- Property Tax Act and Compliance
- Trade Licence and Compliance
- National Solid Waste Management (NSWMA) and Compliance
- Powers of Arrest and Safe Encounter
- Parochial Market law and Regulations
- Advertising and Billboards
- Statement Writing
- Preparation of Case files for Court Removed full stop
- Public Speaking
- Human Dignity
- Personal Development
- Conflict Management
- Stress Management.
Functions of the Municipal Police Force
This para-military group has certain specific functions for which they are trained, namely:-
- The maintenance of Public Order
- Revenue Enforcement Activities and
- Enforcement of various Laws that govern the activities of the Councils ie. The Town and Country Act, the Parish Council Act and the Parochial Laws.
- All Municipal Police Officers must be trained at a course organized by the Ministry of Local Government & Community Development or approved by the said organization. Inappropriate conduct during the period of training shall result in immediate dismissal from the training programme.
- Upon the successful completion of the Municipal Police Training Course, the new Municipal Police Officer should be sworn in as a Special District Constable before becoming operational.
- Once employed by the Parish Council, the Municipal Police Officer shall maintain an acceptable level of decorum both on and off the job, especially when in uniform.
- On going training, on the job, shall be conducted to upgrade the Officer and render him/her more capable of effective performance through knowledge, physical and mental fitness.
Efforts are in train to formalize the existence and operations of the Municipal Police Force through improved training, streamlining the operations in councils and the passing of appropriate legislation to guide all aspects of its functioning.
During the 2013 - 2014 period, 25 Municipal Police Officers were recruited within the LAs to assist in enforcing municipal laws and regulations, maintaining public order, support revenue generating efforts, and help in disaster management activities.