Area One top cop vows to capture criminals who fled SOE dragnet
ROSE HALL, St James — Head of the Area One Police, ACP Clifford Chambers has expressed confidence that criminals who escaped the dragnet of the state of public emergency (SOE) in St James will be captured.
“There is strong information that persons who are wanted in St James are elsewhere outside of St James,” he told journalists on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA) special awards ceremony held at Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.
The senior cop said the security forces are pursing the hoodlums.
“There is really no escape,” said Chambers.
His comments came on the heels of Wednesday’s killing, in St Mary, of a man who had been implicated in several murders in St James, including one at the gates of Salt Spring Primary and Infant School.
“The manifestation of what happened in Mason Hall, St Mary, is indicative of criminals moving out of the space because of the heightened police activities,” stated ACP Chambers.
“Though we try to put up the blockage and then we try to have operations targeting them, based on the legality of [having to make] the announcements [about SOE implementation] sometimes you find people will slip through the cracks. And oftentimes when a person is responsible for a major crime, their next move is to move from one location to another,” he added.
He said the police will be working across divisions to apprehend those on the run.
“The dynamics of our policing as it is now [stands is that] all the areas, divisions, and sections are coordinating and conducting linked investigation. Wherever they are at, they will be pursued as we carry out our mandate to get them,” vowed ACP Chambers.
The Government declared a 14-day-long SOE in St James on November 8. Up to press time there had been no word on whether it would seek to have the governor general sign off on another. That is one option it has, instead of trying to cajole the Opposition — which has consistently said it is not in favour of long-term use of SOEs — to agree to an extension.
With criminals escaping into other parishes and the SOE set to expire, ACP Chambers acknowledged the challenges the police face.
“It tells us that our job will always be a tough one,” he said.
However, he appeared confident that they can make an impact, even without an SOE.
“When the state of emergency comes to an end I am certain that the high command will initiate other operational initiatives,” said the ACP.
“We have various initiatives that can be put in place to continue the pursuit, even though they may not have the legal latitude that the military has under SOE,” he added.
On Wednesday Odaine “Jungle” Barrett was killed in a shoot-out in Mason Hall, St Mary, during a joint operation between cops from St James and the Area Two operational formation in St Mary.
ACP Chambers said Barrett had been hiding in the eastern parish.
“As a result of the information and intelligence provided to the police, the police went in pursuit of the man who challenged the police in a gunfire. The police returned the gunfire and he was shot and injured and an illegal firearm recovered from him. He was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival,” said the top cop.
“We are encouraging persons who are wanted to turn themselves in to the police — and we would encourage the general public to contact the police if they have reasons to believe that the persons in their district are known to be wanted. [We ask them] not to facilitate them because supporting them is also an offence,” he cautioned.