SSP Parkins vows to contain murders in St James
SENIOR Superintendent in charge of the St James Police Division Egbert Parkins has vowed that the parish will never again be subjected to the wanton bloodletting it has experienced in recent years.
"We are working feverishly to ensure that we will never, ever again... never again in St James will we go back there. And the people of St James and the police are working together to ensure it doesn't happen again," SSP Parkins emphasised.
"We need to get back St James, especially Montego Bay, to the days when everybody say they want to come to Montego Bay. I want to see no more cartoons with people running away from Montego Bay to Kingston. They (people) must be running from Kingston back to Montego Bay to work, play and enjoy themselves."
The senior cop is apparently buoyed by a recent inner-city community intervention which involves the targeting of persons, by the police, who are featured on their radar, but there is no substantial evidence to throw the book at them.
"Those individuals who we do not have credible evidence to take them before the court, we engage them, let them know the impact of what it is that they are doing and the effect that it is having on the society. (Also) the impact it is having on them and what they can do to change all of this. By working with them to let them understand that from my level my management team has a responsibility to ensure that they are respected, they are treated fairly and professionally," SSP Parkins explained.
He sternly warned, however, that: "They must understand though, that if they commit an offence we are going to dig for credible evidence to put them before the court."
The St James police are working closely with several inner-city communities in the parish where they have social interactions, such as games and cook-outs with community members.
SSP Parkins said already the initiative is reaping rich dividends.
"The response coming from those communities is unbelievable. We expected it, but not so quickly. The calls I am now getting from the communities are not about police harassment and police unprofessional conduct. But, it is about police doing the right thing and I am so happy because everybody knows where I stand, and where everybody in my management team stands," said SSP Parkins.
Last year, the St James police recorded 166 murders in the parish, roughly five more than the previous year.
So far this year, the number of murders recorded in the parish stands at 24, one less than the corresponding period last year.
But, the head honcho of the St James police division was quick to note that unlike previous years, the murders are mostly domestic-related and not as a result of gang warfare, which prevailed previously in the inner-city communities.
"You gonna have murders, there will be people in their house fighting, but one thing we can tell you, the places where we were getting the murders from the people understand that we are working together and targeting those persons who are still involved, trying to seek out credible evidence to take them before the court," he explained.
SSP Parkins was speaking to the Jamaica Observer this week following a luncheon held at the Sandals Montego Bay Resort. There, representatives of the Montego Bay region of Sandals Resorts initiated discussions with the St James police and the Social Development Commission, focusing primarily on the forging of partnerships to create sustainable youth empowerment programmes in the parish.
One of the proposed projects, which will be coordinated by Sandals Resorts, will seek to engage youths in several recreational, academic, skills training and income-generating opportunities.
Regional Public Relations Manager for the Sandals Montego Bay region, Khadine Daley, explained that the proposed programme seeks to "re-establish community relations with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and will also help to improve communication and cooperation between youths and the police".
During the luncheon, Sandals Resorts donated sporting gear and equipment to the Montego Bay Police Youth Club.
Meanwhile, SSP Parkins noted that the St James police are in favour of the proposed Sandals initiative.
"We are backing this 100 per cent because we know for a fact that most of our problem comes from our youths. The youths are at risk," he stressed.