Jamaica Community Empowerment and Transformation Project
Tetra Tech is improving community policing programs and implementing activities with vulnerable populations and at-risk youth to generate economic opportunity, decrease crime and violence, and introduce disaster risk reduction techniques in Jamaica.
Jamaica faces three major challenges to becoming a strong, viable, safe, secure, and developed country: economic instability, elevated levels of crime and violence, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Safety and security issues primarily impact poor, urban communities, and youth are both the largest group of perpetrators and primary victims of violent crime. Through the five-year U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Community Empowerment and Transformation (COMET) II project, Tetra Tech is working to advance citizen security by promoting community-driven activities that improve crime prevention, intervention, and enforcement, while enhancing the rule of law, engaging at-risk youth, and supporting community policing.
To promote community-driven activities that improve crime prevention, Tetra Tech has supported the establishment of community resource centers (CRC) in target communities through small grants awards to community development organizations. For example, the CRC in Linstead has become a community hub for social engagement, including hosting community meetings and workshops on crime prevention, domestic violence, and journalism. It also provides classes for at-risk youth on conflict prevention, English, mathematics, community service, and ethics. The project has opened nine CRCs, with six more in development.
The design of the CRCs also takes into account current best practices related to climate change resilience in disaster risk reduction. The CRCs are outfitted with water catchment facilities, solar panels, environmentally safe waste disposal, and disaster risk reduction equipment. The CRCs will act as a hub for disaster risk reduction training and will reduce the carbon footprint of the project while helping the community adequately mitigate and respond to disasters.
To build support for the rule of law and foster support for a culture of lawfulness, Tetra Tech trained community journalists on safety and security issues to support demand for improved accountability. The project has trained more than 250 journalists during 10 training sessions focusing on integrity in the media.
The project also worked closely with the Jamaican Constabulary Force to organize activities to foster improved relations between the police and communities, such as town hall meetings, sports, and cultural events. Some parishes also organized domestic violence prevention activities. Tetra Tech also has partnered with Police Youth Clubs to implement an initiative called iVALUE, focused on community crime reduction. Under this initiative, the project team helped train youth ambassadors to create and disseminate anti-violence messages through performing arts; plan and implement youth projects; and incorporate positive values in those projects.
To improve community security by strengthening local governance and improving community policing, Tetra Tech has promoted and supported community efforts to address the underlying causes of crime through various approaches. These include providing training and technical assistance to targeted communities and civil society organizations, along with a small grants program to give direct support to community groups, churches, and nongovernmental organizations. By focusing on increasing the capacity of communities to peacefully manage problems at the local level, the project has ensured sustainability and buy-in from target communities.