Tranquility Bay to be reopened as police facility

TREASURE BEACH, St Elizabeth – Just under a decade since the Tranquility Bay facility at Old Wharf in this secluded south coast village was used for a short time as a police training academy, police recruits are to return there.

Head of the Constabulary Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay confirmed to the Jamaica Observer yesterday that Tranquility Bay, which was originally built decades ago as the Old Wharf Hotel, has been refurbished and should be reopened to police recruits “sometime in early July”.

The initial plan was for it to be used immediately as a training academy, as part of the drive to boost the number of police men and women being recruited to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

However, the onset of the COVID-19 health emergency has necessitated the need for a 14-day quarantine for new police recruits, which is the purpose the facility will serve, for now, Lindsay said.

She told the Sunday Observer that with “an intake” of 160 recruits now about to enter the JCF for training, they will be quarantined in “batches of 80” before being sent to the National Police College of Jamaica (NPCJ), once they test negative for COVID-19.

She emphasised that the orginal plan for Tranquility Bay to be an additional training facility remains, but “everything has been delayed by COVID”.

Back in 2010-11, the facility served just one group of police recruits to facilitate repairs at the NPCJ at Twickenham Park, before being shut down.

While welcoming the latest initiative, residents of Treasure Beach last week told the Sunday Observer that they were concerned that long-standing water shortages will be worsened.

Treasure Beach residents say many of them get piped water only three or four days per week. In some communities such as Sandy Bank, piped water is said to be non-existent.

Residents say the situation is particularly worrying since Treasure Beach is a growing destination for tourists, especially those in search of a “community experience”. Like other areas in Jamaica, the tourism sector in Treasure Beach was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, though a few visitors were stranded there when air traffic came to a halt in late March.

Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western, Floyd Green told the Sunday Observer by telephone yesterday that he expects water issues to be resolved over the next three years with the “execution” of a comprehensive three-year project set to cost just over $500 million dollars and serving Fort Charles and the various Treasure Beach communities.

In the short term, Green said, water issues will be addressed by the National Water Commission with targeted repairs and pipe replacements. Part of the problem was unstable electricity supply from the Jamaica Public Service Company which occasionally causes the breakdown of pumps and other NWC equipment, Green said.

“I have been trying to reach out to both JPS and NWC regarding these issues,” Green said.

The MP welcomed the planned opening of the police training facility at Tranquility Bay, saying it provided a “wonderful opportunity” for additional employment and will also keep Treasure Beach “safe”.

Leading Treasure Beach hotelier Jason Henzell also embraced the training initiative, saying young police recruits could enhance the community tourism project in the area and also provide opportunities for on the job practise of a “softer” type of policing. “Ten years ago when the police academy was first here we welcomed them, and we are looking forward to having them again,” he said.

In the 1990s and for several years in the early 2000s, the Tranquility Bay facility housed “troubled children” – on occasion resulting in controversy – mainly from North America.

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