The need for improved anti-narcotics, law enforcement training within the Caribbean was first raised at a CARICOM Ministerial Meeting convened in Jamaica in 1989 and again in 1990 at a meeting of regional Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA).
As part of its deliberations, the HONLEA passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Regional Drug Training Centre (REDTRAC). The idea of locating the training centre in Jamaica was first mooted by the Jamaican Delegation attending the 34th Session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) held in Vienna, Austria, in 1991. The idea received unanimous support from regional leaders assembled at the 12th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference held in Basseterre, St. Kitts, in July of 1991 and again at the 15th Heads of Government Meeting assembled in Bridgetown, Barbados, in July of 1994.
Arising out of those discussions, and based on the tremendous regional and international traction received, a Sub-regional Project was formulated under the auspices of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) for “…the establishment of a regional anti-narcotics, law enforcement training centre in Jamaica…to serve the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean…” The Project Document was signed between the UNDCP and the Government of Jamaica in May of 1995 and construction of the centre began in November of that year with tripartite funding from the UNDCP, the United States Bureau of International Narcotics Matters (INM) and the Government of Jamaica. Constructed as a fully self-contained, residential facility, the Centre is located on the compound of the National Police College of Jamaica (NPCJ) at Twickenham Park in Spanish Town.
The Centre was formally commissioned into service on Friday 27th September, 1996 by the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson and was opened as the Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre (CRDLETC). Despite this, the use of the original acronym (REDTRAC) still persists and has been a source of confusion to some. The truth is that the acronym REDTRAC is a carry-over from the originally proposed name, Regional Drug Training Centre, which carried sway in the early discussions. However, to give more setting and context to the institution at its inception, the shorter name was tweaked to give rise to the long version – the official name under which the Centre is registered. To this day, the Centre is still more popularly known and referred to as REDTRAC.
REDTRAC conducted its first course, a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Course, over the period 25th November – 6th December, 1996. Made up of a cohort of 25 persons drawn from 10 Caribbean countries, graduates of this course have gone on to become Commissioners of Police in their respective countries while others have gone on to hold positions of leadership at the national and regional level throughout the Caribbean. Reviewed and re-branded over time, the ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Course is still on the REDTRAC Curriculum as the Instructor Training & Development Course (ITDC).