Crime down

Head of St Ann police says all major crimes except one trending down in the parish

Observer staff reporter

Monday, October 15, 2018

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HEAD of the St Ann police Senior Superintendent (SSP) Michael Smith says public order strategies implemented by his division in February, 2018 have been working, as the parish continues to see a decline in major crimes.

Smith, who was speaking at last Thursday's sitting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation, also added that major towns across the parish have been seeing less congestion and vending in the streets.

“The strategies that we put in place in February are working. All the towns are policing themselves now in terms of traffic and vending,” Smith said.

Additionally, the lawman said statistics have indicated that major crimes are trending down.

He said 25 murders were committed in Ocho Rios last year, but for a similar period this year only eight murders were committed. Troubled communities such as Steer Town and Parry Town, Smith said, have only recorded one murder each.

The senior cop told councillors that since the start of the year, the St Ann police division has so far recorded 32 murders. This is down from 47 over a similar period last year. In 2016 41 murders were committed over a similar period.

There has also been a decrease in robberies in the parish. The division has so far recorded 48 when compared to 50 over a similar period last year. The figure was 64 in 2016.

Break-ins are also trending down with 83 reported incidents since the start of 2018 when compared to 94 in 2017 and 127 in 2016 over a similar period.

Smith said that there were 19 reported cases of aggravated assault since the start of the year. For a similar period last year the police recorded 33 incidents and 26 in 2016.

At the same time, there has been a slight increase in shootings with 29 recorded so far this year. This is three more shootings than the 26 recorded over a similar period last year.

“It's time for us to stop talking; action is critical. We need to show the people that we are leaders and when we say we are going to do something, we do it,” Smith told the meeting.

He also told councillors that there could be more order if bus parks were better regulated.

Smith pointed out that the Ocho Rios bus park needs designated areas and that the St Ann's Bay bus park was inadequate. He suggested that the St Ann Municipal Corporation acquire adjoining lands to accommodate more vehicles.

At the same time, he told the Municipal Corporation that he will ensure police personnel are present at the Ocho Rios Transportation Centre up to 12 midnight, however, he pointed out that more lighting is needed in the transportation centre.

He also stressed that vending cannot be allowed on the streets.

Smith said all have to work together to ensure continued success in the parish.

“We have to ensure that we sing from the same hymn sheet even though we are different members in the band,” said Smith.

He said that residents have to be cultured to accept law and order, noting that while the police have limited resources, they were dedicated to getting the work done.

“We have limitations and constraints [but] I don't cry over things I don't have. I try to resolve the issues with what I have,” he said.

For his part, Mayor of St Ann's Bay Michael Belnavis commended the police for the work they have been doing in Ocho Rios.

“I'm really impressed with your work and how we have been able to keep the traffic under control and the vending,” said Belnavis, who is also councillor for the Ocho Rios Division.

In the meantime, Smith is recommending that cameras be placed at stop lights from Mammee Bay to St Ann's Bay, as the police make an effort to clamp down on drivers who continue to create a third lane along this stretch of road.

He described the area as a “death trap” as motorists continue to disobey the road code.

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