December 29, 2014
Environmental enforcement in St. Mary has been bolstered with the recent training of 40 police officers from 11 police stations in the parish through efforts by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
The officers were trained in environmental laws such as the Beach Control Act, Wildlife Protection Act, Endangered Species Act and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, (Wastewater and Sludge) Regulations, 2013.
Dionne Rose, Manager of the Public Education and Corporate Communication Branch at NEPA said the parish of St. Mary is famous for its natural beauty such as its rivers and beaches and as a result the Agency thought it prudent that the law enforcement officers and community members be sensitized of the existing laws that will guide them to protect the parish's natural resources.
"The officers and those from the police youth clubs were also exposed to the current environmental issues and trends as well as the danger of climate change and the impact it can have on the natural environment," said Rose.
They were informed about techniques in collecting water samples during pollution incidents and how to maintain the integrity of the sample.
Superintendent Dean Johnson, Commanding Officer in-charge of St Mary Constabulary Force commended the Agency for the training and added that the session was useful as it complements the parish's policing model in St Mary.
"The training session has empowered us to do our work more efficiently and effectively in the various communities across the parish, and enriches the service delivery of our Agriculture, Environment & Fisheries - Planning, Protection and Enforcement Unit," said Superintendent Johnson.
He further emphasized that "the parish has responsible environmental stewards who are involved in the community; and by enhancing the success of agriculture and fisheries through the protection of the environment, more persons would gain employment in those industries, which should lead to a continued downward trend in crime in St. Mary.
St Mary currently enjoys 21 per cent reduction in serious or major crimes and has a 41 per cent clear-up [resolution by arrest] rate significantly above the national average, he informed.
The Agency has recently employed an environmental officer at its satellite office located on the RADA Building in Frontier. There have been over forty environmental permits and licenses as well as Beach Licenses monitored between August 2014-November 2014 in St. Mary. Where entities have been found to be in breach of their licenses and permits the Agency has taken steps to ensure that they become compliant. Hence 27 site warning notices were served on permittees and licensees who are non-compliant. NEPA will continue to train police officers in St. Andrew and St. Ann in the upcoming months.