Mixed Success for State of Emergency Parishes in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The Jamaica police say there have been mixed results to the fight against crime in the three western parishes were the authorities at the end of April declared a state of emergency.

According to figures released by the Corporate Communication Unit (CCU) while the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover have both recorded a reduction in murders, the situation is different in St James, where the number of murders increased when compared to the same period last year.

The figures show that in Westmoreland and Hanover, there had been a 34 and 33 per cent reduction in murders, respectively, since the enforcement of the state of emergency on April 30.

The police say prior to the state of emergency, Hanover had 14 murders and Westmoreland 43, but that the figures had declined to eight in Westmoreland and four in and Hanover since the initiative.

In St. James, the figures show that 51 murders were recorded prior to the enforcement of the state of emergency in April and 22 since that month and July 12.

The opposition spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson, has in the past, complained that the state of emergencies has not been effective in curtailing murders.

In his latest statement late Sunday, Jackson said Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson (Retd), must inform the “nation what are the plans beyond the current State of Emergency to stem the growing incidents of murder and other atrocities affecting several communities and townships across the island”.

He warned that the current state of affairs is of utmost concern given the increase in murders and violence across several communities, and in some areas, within the jurisdiction of the state of emergency.

“In fact, it appears as though these criminal elements have studied the deployment pattern of the SOE, and are using it as cover to carry out their heinous crimes and showing no regard for what was intended to be a ‘shock and awe’ response by the State.

“A series of shootings in Trench Town, a stone’s throw away from a police/military checkpoint recently, is evidence of the criminal disregard for the state of emergency. This is alarming and disconcerting,” Jackson said, also citing an episode of extensive shooting near the command centre, as further evidence of the weakening of the effectiveness of the SoE.

Jackson said there have been several murders and shootings with intent despite the ongoing state of emergency in St James.

“It has become increasingly clear that effective policing techniques have been abandoned and replaced by an ever-growing reliance on the military to…achieve what effective policing is capable of doing,” he said.

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