Criminals on the loose in Denham Town as ZOSO goes into 'building phase'

Observer staff reporter

Friday, April 20, 2018

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CRIMINALS in Denham Town are seemingly exploiting the second phase of the zone of special operations (ZOSO), which requires fewer members of the joint forces to be in the community.

Mere hours apart, between Wednesday and yesterday, two people were shot dead and three others injured in two separate incidents.

In fact, since the second phase of ZOSO took effect on March 12, a total of five people, including a teenager, have been killed.

On March 14, Dillon Martin was gunned down. Four days later Horace Anderson was killed. On April 8, 16-year-old Shaine Decket was murdered. The two latest victims to be killed in the community are 58-year-old higgler Jennifer Bruce and 20-year-old Taj Gordon, also known as “Fret Dem”, both from Golden Heights, Kingston 14.

The new phase, which is the “building phase”, according to zone liaison officer, Inspector Dian Bartley, has resulted in a scale back in the intensity of policing since they are no longer in the operational stage.

However, she said the joint forces will have to re-evaluate their strategy.

“What we have to do now is revisit deployment strategy; boosting foot patrols and mobile patrol. We have to intensify our investigative capabilities to enforce the anti-gang legislation. All we intend to do is to restore the trust and safety of the community,” Bartley said, adding that there is heightened fear among residents.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the area yesterday, the numerous checkpoints that were initially set up as part of ZOSO were non-existent, and members of the joint forces were few in numbers.

The news team then came upon the second crime scene in the community since Wednesday, in which a man had been shot in the head on Bread Lane yesterday.

Head of the Kingston Western Police Division, Acting Senior Superintendent Howard Chambers told the Jamaica Observer that the injured man was walking along Bread Lane minutes to one in the afternoon when he was shot by a gunman who escaped near the intersection of Bread Lane and Spanish Town Road.

In Wednesday's shooting incident, it is reported that approximately 6:20 pm, Gordon was among a group of men playing football when a motor car drove up and men armed with handguns alighted and opened fire at them. Gordon, Bruce, and two other individuals received gunshot wounds.

They were taken to hospital where Bruce and Gordon died and the other two admitted.

In January, Denham Town residents had said they were fearful that the community would return to being an area plagued by crime and violence after the joint forces pulled out.

“Once dem move a problem. We cyaan mek dem move. We deh on the ground and we know wah a gwaan. The youths dem unruly. ZOSO deh yah and dem still a gwaan wid dem little thing,” a resident, who asked not to be identified, told the Observer then.

The residents, who disclosed then that gangsters were using weapons other than guns to commit crimes, suggested that the joint forces needed to conduct additional patrols.

The residents also argued then that the youth in the community who are linked to criminal activities need to be placed on a tight leash.

Following yesterday's shooting, a number of residents who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed their frustration.

“Mi tyad a it. From dem lift up, the first day dem lift up, the guns,” said one resident.

“A school mi a go, mi nuh have nuh time fi dis,” another resident said.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved another 60-day extension to the zones of special operations in Mount Salem, St James, and Denham Town in Kingston.

This will be the fourth 60-day extension for the ZOSO in Mount Salem, which took effect on September 1, 2017, and the third for Denham Town, which came into effect on October 17, 2017.

The House extended the operation of both ZOSOs by 60 days on February 14, the life of which were to end prior to April 24.

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