A State of Public Emergency (SOE) has been declared in sections of the Corporate Area.
The announcement was made on Sunday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a press conference at Jamaica House.
The enhanced security measures include several communities such as Denham Town and Trench Town, that have become crime hotspots across the island .
The latest announcement is a continuation of the government’s use of emergency powers in the fight against crime.
Holness who is also Defense minister said the measure became necessary because the capacity of the force was limited to deal with the high levels of criminal activity.
“The government considers the crime situation in these areas to be over and above the capacity of existing law enforcement. The objective is therefore to degrade and erode the capacity of criminal organizations to operate and control these spaces to break and indeed challenge the culture of lawless that exits in some communities in these areas and ultimately to provide the space in which law abiding citizens and regular policing can work together to provide peace and harmony in these areas.”
He also told reporters that his administration is not contemplating an islandwide State of Emergency.
“If you are going to use the state of emergency as a knee jerk response, then you could contemplate an islandwide SOE…….but the state of emergency also gives you powers that you can use for the long term degrading of the capacity of a threat. We are using it for the erosion of capabilities and the degrading of the capacity of what we consider to be long term well entrenched threats,” he said
Meanwhile, leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Dr. Peter Phillips expressed concern about “unending States of Emergencies”.
It’s a judgement tha the government has to exercise but I would still make the point that we cannot have unending States of Emergency,…” said Phillips.
According to Phillips, who was a former National Security Minister, the PNP still awaits confirmation of more long term initiatives to counter the incidence of serious crimes, outside of these security measures which should only be short term in duration.
In 2017, 1, 600 people were murdered across the island and so far this year, more than 700 people have been killed.