Police Commissioner insist SOEs reaping success

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson is adamant that the states of emergency (SOEs), now in place in seven police divisions, are having a positive impact on crime, despite the murder total this year a tick above last year.

At the start of this week, official figures from the Jamaica Constabulary Force showed 1,101 murders committed across the island since the start of this year. This was seven more than the 1,094 murders recorded over the same period last year, while the 1,064 shootings recorded up to November 2, was seven per cent above last year.

But Anderson told journalist at the media briefing at Jamaica House on Thursday that without the SOEs the figures would have been worse.

“Prior to the states of emergency we were at 1,635 murders for the year (2017). Last year we got a 22 per cent reduction with the use of states of emergency and other measures. At the point at which we started to use the states of emergency, no other policing activity had stopped.

“We intensified our investigations this year, over last year, particularly as it relates to criminal gangs and in that regard, managed to take a number of them into custody,” said Anderson as he noted that this year's murder rate is tracking last year despite the SOEs being in effect.

According to Anderson, since the SOE was introduced in St James, Westmoreland and Hanover murders are down 35 per cent while shootings are down 40 per cent in that region.

He said in the adjoining parishes of St Catherine and Clarendon where an SOE is in effect, murders have dropped by 55 per cent and shootings are down 51 per cent since it was introduced. Pointing to the St Andrew South Police Division, Anderson said murders are down 22 per cent and shootings down 32 per cent since the SOE was implemented.

“We know what things are like when we don't have it [SOE]. I just quoted a number of figures and none of those figures are small figures in terms of reductions in murders when comparing what has happened since, and what was happening before.

“There is no version of how you can twist, or turn, those figures to suggest that people's lives are not being saved by it. Will it save everybody's lives? No. There are a number of things that will have to take place to do that,” declared Anderson.

He argued that after people develop enough confidence based on the operations of the SOEs, the police will start to get information to capture more of the criminals and recover more guns.

In the meantime Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang told the media briefing that the numbers show that there was a dramatic increase in murders in St James last year when the SOE was not extended.

He said the SOE is not a long -term solution to crime but it is a tool that must be used when murders reach the levels that they had reached.

“It is the nature of gang wars that is affecting the entire urban centres. Where you have a place like Montego Bay, St James, and sections of the Corporate Area, gangs are endemic and it will take time, not only to change behaviour, but to root out gangs,” said Chang.

“It is not going to happen overnight and we have to ensure that we have in place intense, strong security measures to disrupt their operations and then we can root them out,” added Chang.


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