Safer Jamaica by year end

Police target one community in each of the 19 police divisions starting with Mount Salem

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 12, 2017



MOUNT SALEM, St James - The Community Safety and Security Branch, headed by Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Steve McGregor, has been tasked to make one community in each of the island's 19 police divisions safe by the end of the year, starting with Mount Salem in St James.

“You are my first group. All my 19 geographical divisions have been tasked to select a community that we will make safe. It is our intention to make 19 safe communities in Jamaica by the end of this year. And guess what? Mount Salem will be the first one. Yes!” SSP McGregor declared.

“I have the commitment from the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security that they will be supporting me. So it is not an if, but what I am saying about Mount Salem is going to happen and will work. It will. All we ask of you is to meet us halfway to make the pitch ready for us to play the match.”

McGregor was speaking at the zone of special operations community meeting held in Mount Salem, St James, on Sunday.

He pointed out that Mount Salem, where a zone of special operations (ZOSO) has been in effect since Friday, September 1, has to be made safe to provide the template for the remaining 18 communities.

“I am very enthused to know that we have started with Mount Salem. You are going to be seeing me a lot here, so I will be back because we are going to ensure that whichever parish, division, location that we go next, they will be happy for what is happening [in Mount Salem]. I don't want them to look at this as any bad that is happening to you,” the senior cop underscored.

“It is about fixing our country. Our country is averaging over 1,000 murders a year for the past 13 years. It cannot continue. We must start to make a difference. And this is how we are going to start to make a difference. It will only work if you work with us.”

Meanwhile, the senior cop listed six pillars on which the police will be seeking to engage the residents of Mount Salem to make the community safer.

The implementation of a children curfew programme, which will see children 17 years old and younger off the streets between the hours of 9:00 pm and 6:00 am on a daily basis; the strengthening of the Police Safe Schools' Programme at the Mount Salem Primary School; the establishment of the Police Youth Club; introduction of a neighbourhood watch group; setting up a mentorship programme; and the establishment of a consultative committee are the pillars, McGregor said.

He also urged that residents get to know the commanders in the zones of special operations.

“They are there to work with you. Get to know them,” he emphasised.

During the meeting, a man who identified himself only as Lamey was among other residents who lashed out at what they described as unfair treatment from some members of the security forces inside the zone.

“We as decent, hard-working citizens have been bombarded, have been treated less than we should, spoken to with disrespect and, in addition to that, I wonder if the capability of our police force that I know is not able to investigate who are criminals from who are decent people. I am wondering because the attitude that is being displayed is happening as if all of us living in Mount Salem are criminals,” the resident charged.

But Member of Parliament for St James West Central Marlene Malahoo Forte noted that “in the process of making improvement, you will experience inconvenience in this community”.

“If anybody has a problem, there is a process by which it can be addressed,” explained Malahoo Forte, who is also the attorney general.

“For those of you who have had so many sleepless nights because of the barrage of gunshots, the many of you who have lost your children and loved ones because of the gunshots, time come for all of you to make up your minds as to which side you stand on. Because make no mistake, those who choose to kill steal, rob and destroy, their time is up.”

“Your community can't continue to be under siege by criminal elements. And many of you know who they are. Some of you may not know, some of you might pretend that you do not know, and you know, but time come...” she stressed.

Meanwhile, SSP McGregor also appealed to the residents to assist the police with any information they might have on criminals.

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