Residents want more boots on the ground

St Andrew South reacts to state of public emergency

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

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FOR the most part, residents and small business operators in the St Andrew South police division, where a state of public emergency (SOE) was declared on Sunday, appear to be in support of the security measure, except that they want more joint police/military teams patrolling their respective communities.

According to the police, since the measure took effect, 72 people have been picked up. Of that number, 37 were processed and released, with 27 still being processed. Eight people have been detained.

Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer visited the communities, some Jamaica Defence Force soldiers were seen on their cellphones at the checkpoints while others observed members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force checking motor vehicles and pedestrians.

“What they doing right there so not making any sense,” a shopkeeper on Bay Farm Road told the Observer.

Making reference to a checkpoint at the intersection of Aloe Avenue and Bay Farm Road, the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the unit was not strategically placed.

He argued that there needs to be more boots on the ground.

“If I was a criminal, when me come down and see dem mi turn off and gone on the next avenue. They are just sitting there; they are not on the other road. They need at least one police or soldier on each avenue so as dem see you turn back dem stop you and do a spot check. We need them at the intersections,” he pointed out.

He added that more attention should be focused on Waterhouse, Tower Hill and Marl Road, also in the St Andrew South police division.

The call for more boots on the ground was echoed in Seaward Drive, where residents complained that the area is plagued by theft.

A resident who says she has been living in the community for over 40 years, and who declined to give her name for fear of reprisal, said joint forces should be assigned at Merl Grove and, Gaynstead avenues and other intersections in that vicinity.

“Dem rob yuh as yuh say, 'Who dat?' Certain hours a night you cyaah walk, people get juk down,” the woman said.

“One big empty house down dere. Dem [joint forces] can go down dere go camp out. Mi wi give dem two chair. Police fi dung deh! Try nuh mek 24 hours pass and dem nuh go dung deh! Mi wi freeze dem water carry come give dem. Whatever dem want mi wi give dem,” she continued.

Residents on Espeut Avenue also welcomed the SOE.

“Mi sleep wid mi door open last night,” a woman who gave her name only as Brittany told the Observer.

“Last night we out here a ketch up water and dem [police/military team] out here wid wi. Mi love dem. Don't move dem!” she said.

Another woman who was part of a group converged near a standpipe echoed Brittany's plea.

“Don't move dem! Mek dem stay until next year. Mi love dem and dem nuh rude to us or disrespect us,” she said.

But not everybody is pleased.

For example, a bar operator who said he was told that while the measure is in effect his establishment must be closed by seven o'clock, is ruing the SOE's impact on his sales.

“Yuh nuh sell nutten dem time deh, “ he told the Observer. “Dem time deh people just a come from work. Nothing nah sell in a di day.”

Further, the man maintained that stationary checkpoints were ineffective in fighting crime.

“Dem sit down dere so and crime a gwaan round di road and dem nuh know,” he said in reference to the joint police/military teams. “Dem deh one place; a better dem did a patrol di community.”

Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson said on Sunday that the SOE will give the security forces temporary additional powers of search, arrest and detention.

The detailed boundaries of the St Andrew South SOE are:

East: Starting at the foot of Red Hills at the intersection of Perkins Boulevard, Molynes Road and Red Hills Road, extending in a south-southeasterly direction along Molynes Road, Seaward Drive, Mimosa Road, Aloe Avenue, Bay Farm Road, Newark Avenue, Elm Crescent, Keesing Avenue, Hagley Park Road, Omara Road, and Chisholm Avenue to the point of intersection with Maxfield Avenue

South: Extending in a south-westerly direction from the intersection of Chisholm Avenue and Maxfield Avenue, along Maxfield Avenue onto East Avenue to the coastline in the vicinity of Petrojam, and extending along the said coastline in the vicinity of the Kingston Container Terminal to the Portmore Causeway Bridge

West: Continuing in a north-westerly direction from the Portmore Causeway Bridge along the Fresh River, the shared parish border of St Andrew and St Catherine west of Riverton City, and extending to the vicinity of the western-most end of the Belvedere to the Ferry secondary road

North: Extending in an easterly direction along the Belvedere to Ferry roads to the foot of Red Hills at the intersection of Perkins Boulevard, Molynes Road and Red Hills Road, the start point.


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