Brigadier swears to effective crime reduction move next year

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Brigadier swears to effective crime reduction move next year

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 29, 2019

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JAMAICA Defence Force (JDF) brigade commander, Brigadier Radgh Mason says the joint security forces have set a target to decrease criminal activities in problematic areas by 50 per cent in 2020, returning the country to a state of normality.

“[Normality] in our books is when the rates are reduced by half. The solution going forward is much more comprehensive, all of Government and all of society is part of this solution. What we need immediately going forward is for public confidence to cause the intelligence work to apprehend persons who are wanted in relation to murder, shootings and other criminal activities. That public confidence is needed now, and we ask the public to trust us to apprehend the murderers and the shooters,” he said.

But in order to achieve this target and the normality he references, the brigadier said a multi-agency effort, including the public is needed. Subsequently, he made an impassioned plea for media to cause a mobilisation of the public against criminal activities and help build public trust.

“We cannot continue to live in an environment just like this. The anti-informant culture is something we have to break. The families are not safe. The profile of persons murdered are young people as they are often gang members or gang leaders themselves. Their friends and families are also targets. If they can't get the persons they want, they go after their families and this is what adds to the indiscriminate nature of the killings we are experiencing,” Brigadier Mason said, adding that with public trust the 50 per cent reduction in crime can be achieved in a single year.

On December 22, 2019, the Jamaica Constabulary Force released crime statistics that indicate 1,302 murders were recorded in Jamaica for the period January 1 to December 21, 2019, up from 1256 in 2018 for the same period. There were 1226 shootings this year in the same period up from 1138 last year.

While the general figures show an increase in murders and shootings, at the time of this interview, Brigadier Mason pointed out that the two zones of special operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem and Denham Town and the states of emergency (SOE) in the tri-parish of Westmoreland, Hanover and St James; St Catherine and Clarendon and St Andrew South have yielded effective results.

Further, Brigadier Mason highlighted crime statistics that illustrated the reduction in murders and shootings across the aforementioned areas since the enhanced security measures have been in effect.

“Pertaining to our report card to date (December 5) ... Westmoreland would have seen a decrease in murders of 45 per cent and a decrease in shootings by 29 per cent. Hanover saw a decrease in murders by 45 per cent and a 78 per cent decrease in shootings. The area of concern for the tri-parish continues to be St James and St James in nominal numbers would have seen an increase of 43 murders ahead of last year. The difficulty with St James obtains because we would not have had an SOE there since April. The tri-parish SOE commenced on the 30th of April 2019.

“For St Andrew South we would have seen a 22 per cent decrease in murders and a 40 per cent decrease in shootings. The St Andrew South SOE commenced on the 8th of July 2019. The third SOE would have commenced on the 5th of September and covered the parishes of St Catherine and Clarendon. Broken down into police divisions, Clarendon would have seen a 72 per cent decrease in murders and 62 per cent decrease in shootings,” Brigadier Mason said.

He continued: “St Catherine North saw a 52 per cent decrease in murders and a 45 per cent decrease in shootings. Also St Catherine South would have shown a 50 per cent decrease in murders and a 52 per cent decrease in shootings and if you like averages, overall the state of emergencies would have resulted in a 58 per cent decrease in murders and a 54 per cent decrease in shootings.”

Regarding the ZOSO in Mount Salem and Denham Town, Brigadier Mason said a significant reduction in crime has been observed.

“The ZOSO commenced in September 2017 in Mount Salem and for Denham Town the 17th of October 2017. In Mount Salem there have been no murders nor shootings since its inception. Prior to that combined murders and shootings occurred at 24 instances. Also for West Kingston [Denham Town], we would have seen 14 murders in the ZOSO since its commencement, 26 months -14 murders. This is a significant decrease from the period prior, which would have been about 34,” said Brigadier Mason.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Mason stated that the enhanced security measures are not solutions, but in order to move forward the public has to also do their part.

“The current situation the country faces is that we are in the top five of the most murderous countries in the world. These enhanced security measures aim to treat with these situations. They are not solutions in themselves. It is an interim measure to cause some greater efficiencies to mature,” he said. “We find that persons supply information more readily when they are under threat. We don't want that. What we want is persons to supply the information not after the situation would have resulted in death or injury. We want to be able to stop that from happening.”

He further encouraged persons to utilise the JDF tip line if they witness criminal activities or even suspect that something is not right.

“We are giving the JDF tip line as a means for persons to provide information. It is 876-837-8888.We want the public to be alert. If you see strangers, something that doesn't look right, then text the tip line. For every criminal act there is a witness. There is a witness somewhere that saw something. We cannot have upwards of just about 3.6 murders a day and a similar number of shootings each day. We should be getting a higher incidence of calls from [the] public just to give us a steer.

“We want the public to understand the're part of the solution and all of Government. it is not a silver bullet. It is a combination, a cocktail of measures from all of society that is going to cause a reduction...we want the public to be alert, it may be nothing, but if you report it, we are able to get it checked and thereby stop a potential murder from happening,” said Brigadier Mason.


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