JTA president: Install more school resource officers to curb gang violence | Lead Stories | #schoolsaftey


Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President Leighton Johnson is calling for the Ministry of Education and Youth to take steps toward placing school resource officers in every academic institution, in order to help enforce discipline and counter the issue of gangs in schools.

Johnson made the call during an interview with the media yesterday, during which he stressed that the presence of criminal elements in schools fosters a terror-filled environment for both teachers and students.

“There have been reports that gangs have established ‘cells’ in schools, and having these ‘cells’ in the schools where teachers and students know who these individuals are creates fear within the schools, and it creates a threatening environment. The truth is that you have some of our students who are extremely ruthless in our schools, and they create fear in their peers and also create fear in teachers, and teachers are afraid to discipline these students or to take corrective measures against these students because of their association and affiliation,” said Johnson.

“We strongly advocate for the broadening of the school resource officers, not just one officer to two or three schools, but we need an officer in every school. In a case where the police have given administrators and the Ministry of Education intelligence that there are ‘cells’ within these schools, then it must be incumbent upon the ministry to have a school resource officer in those schools,” Johnson added.


The recent issue of gang violence in schools goes as far back as 2015, when several female students of The Queen’s School in the Corporate Area got involved in a violent brawl on the school compound, and then along the roadway, resulting in two girls nursing stab wounds. Eight girls were suspended following that incident.

More recently, in February this year, six male students of the Port Antonio High School in Portland were detained at the Port Antonio Police Station following their alleged involvement in a brawl where knives and machetes were drawn. It was reported at that time that the clash, during which two students were stabbed, was between rival gangs within the institution.

Other school conflicts that have turned deadly include the March 21, 2022 stabbing and subsequent death of 16-year-old William Knibb Memorial High School student Khamal Hall, following a fight with another student at the Trelawny-based institution. That altercation allegedly occurred after Hall was accused of stealing a guard ring, which is often used by wrongdoers who believe that wearing such items can protect them from their enemies as well as police detection.

The other student involved in Hall’s killing subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter before the Trelawny Circuit Court on November 7, and was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison on December 5.

Speaking further on the issue of school security, Johnson noted that the JTA has yet to determine how many closed-circuit television [CCTV] security cameras have been installed across Jamaica’s schools.


“In terms of the installation of CCTV cameras, we have not yet ascertained the extent to which the ministry has installed these in our schools. I did speak with a couple of school principals who have indicated that no cameras have been installed at their schools, however, they are partnering with other entities to assist in the procurement and installation of these cameras to assist in their security,” said Johnson.

On June 13 this year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that he had asked the education ministry to review security procedures in public schools, to include the protocols for collecting students, and that the Government was building out the network of CCTV cameras islandwide.

That announcement followed the murder of eight-year-old Braeton Primary School student Danielle Rowe, who died in hospital after she was abducted and her throat slashed while she was leaving her school on June 8. A woman was subsequently taken into custody in relation to the child’s death.

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