News

Cops move to keep 33 Lane cool

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 11, 2014    

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THE St Andrew South police have moved to quell a recent flare-up of violence in the 33 Lane community by erecting a police post in a house which was recently abandoned by a fearful family.

Several houses in the community remained empty up to yesterday after a round of gun violence between infighting members of the Congress Gang resulted in the murders of two persons and the shooting injury of another late last month.

One of the dead persons and has been identified as 49-year-old businesswoman and area leader, Doreen Brown, also called 'Mumma'.

Brown, police said, was standing with another woman on the steps of her business place on the morning of April 24, when a white car drove up and the occupants started shooting. She was killed on the spot while the other woman was injured and taken to hospital.

Since that incident the community has been gripped by fear and several residents have fled in order to protect themselves.

Last Monday a man identified only as 'Morgan' was shot dead in the community. His death is also linked to the ongoing gang feud.

Head of Operations in the division, Superintendent Lennox Harper, told the Jamaica Observer that since the police had occupied the building, the community was calm and the troublemakers had been forced to flee.

"We are implementing what we call proximity policing. We are getting nearer to the residents, be a part of the fold and see what the residents need and interact with them more," Harper said.

The community resembled a ghost town a few days ago, as two cops sat by a service vehicle close to the spot where Brown had been cut down.

"Things are calm for now. There has been no problems since we have been posted here," a police constable said.

A few hundred metres down the narrow lane, a cop stood on a balcony of the two-storey house that had been converted to the police post.

Armed with an M16 assault rifle and a sidearm, the cop surveyed the community from his vantage point.

There was no sign of any resident until a man who appeared to be mentally challenged appeared and engaged in casual conversation with the Sunday Observer.

Soon he went to an abandoned one- room board dwelling where clothes were seen strewn about inside as he rummaged through some belongings.

At the bottom of the lane, however, a young man peered curiously at the news team but disappeared after a few minutes.

The post is commanded by Sergeant Clive McLeod, who reported that three men were picked up days ago in an early-morning joint police/military operation and were being processed.

"We are not getting any resistance, as such," he said.

The previous occupiers of the house fled after Brown's killing and they, too, had been victims of the violence that seems to be a part of life in 33 Lane.

"The owner of this house was killed last year but his relatives still lived here and they may have been ordered out after the flare-up," one cop said.

Harper insisted that the move to set up shop in the community was not a quick- fix solution and that the police would be in it for the long haul as the approach had worked successfully in other police divisions.

He said that the police would be painting out murals of slain gangsters and replacing them with police colours, similar to an initiative which was implemented in the Crescent Road and St Joseph Road communities in the division, which were once the stomping ground of the notorious Rat Bat Gang and had been under siege from rival gunmen in January.

The community has been relatively quiet since the police began interacting with residents and organising sporting and other social activities, Harper said.

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