THE police in St James are reporting a 27 per cent reduction in crime so far this year, compared to the similar period last year, and have attributed the decline to the new crime fighting strategy implemented under a month ago.
According to Constabulary Communications Network Liaison Officer for St James, Peter Salkey, with the exception of murder and shootings all major crimes have been reduced.
Up to February 18, this year 11 persons had been murdered compared to eight for the similar period last year. There have been 10 reports of shootings, compared to seven up to February 18, 2000.
Cases of larceny have been reduced by 400 per
cent, as the figure has moved from eight up to February 18, 2000 to two for the similar period this year.
Robberies have also been reduced moving from 35 last year to 22 this year. Break-ins have moved from 32 last year to 19.
Three weeks ago the police introduced a new crime fighting strategy to St James, under which motorised patrols have been introduced to several communities and are expected to be a permanent feature.
The police say motorised patrols in Montego Bay have moved from three per shift to between eight and 12 per shift under the new strategy.
Superintendent in charge of St James Owen Ellington said the motorised patrols would be increased to 12 and 16 per shift soon.
He said a quick response team would also be established in Montego Bay within the next three weeks. This team is expected to respond quickly to calls and assist periodically with traffic management in the city.
These patrols were being complemented by the bicycle patrols and the foot patrols throughout the city.
As part of the crime fighting strategy, the police have relocated the motorised patrol unit from its Church Street office to the head station at Alice Eldemire Drive, near the Montego Freeport.
The Barnett Street station has also been scaled down and is expected to play a key role in the foot patrol aspect of the strategy.
Superintendent Ellington said the station would not be closed, but would remain as an outpost for the police officers. The station is expected to be refurbished, in order to carry out its new role.
The Summit Police Barrack will, however, be closed, but a skeletal staff would be maintained to take reports and communicate with the officers in the field.
Meanwhile, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mark Kerr-Jarrett has welcomed the new crime fighting strategy.
“It’s a good move, as more patrols will be conducted. I hope to see a higher level of visibility of the police and a reduction in criminal activities,” Kerr-Jarrett said.
Concerns have been raised in some quarters in Montego Bay about the scaling down of the three stations, especially Summit that serves the tourist areas in Montego Bay.
But Kerr-Jarret said the changes should not have a negative impact.
“Out on the streets is where we want the police not in a barrack or a police station,” he said.