Wild, wild west
ROSE HALL, St James — The Area One Police Division is the source of most of the country’s gun running, organised crime, gang activity, and lottery scamming, according to the top cop in charge of the division.
“Area One has the largest number of prolific gangs and gives homage to gang amalgamation and gang network. The area is the epicentre of lotto scamming, which comes with a plethora of other issues such as money laundering, corruption, etc. It has the most gun-prolific runners, organised crime operatives, and the list goes on,” stated ACP Clifford Chambers.
St James, Hanover, Westmoreland and Trelawny all fall into Area One.
“The members here and those who are not here are constantly exposed to the pressure to perform operationally at their best, fighting the battles from all angles, and be resistant to corruption — and we live up to the mantra, of course,” Chambers added.
He was addressing the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA) special awards ceremony held at Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Wednesday.
“Our FID [Financial Investigation Division] counterpart will tell you that Area One has the highest significant percentage of financial crimes and asset seizures so it is no surprise that in Area One we have the major organised crime labs. We have a Lotto Scamming Task Force in Area One, we also have a fraud squad. No other area has the volume of international law enforcement agencies working with our local members, both overtly and covertly,” added ACP Chambers.
He pointed out that Area One also has the dubious distinction of being the first to have a state of public emergency (SOE) and zone of special operations (ZOSO) declared, and spoke of the implications for his team. SOEs, he said, are “hard work”.
“Area One is also the home of the longest-established zone of special operations, which is still up and running in Norwood,” stated ACP Chambers.
Despite the challenges faced, he said, the area under his command is performing much better than it was last year.
“There were 117 less major crimes, compared to last year. The gun recoveries are way above where it was last year; in excess of 58 more illegal firearms were recovered over last year. We have far more ammunition recovered this year over last year. And so, while we grapple with the over 45 major gangs which are operating in the area, we are effectively policing the delicate tourism product at the same time, which brings the whole challenge in Area One in how we do our policing,” stated ACP Chambers.
With this in mind, the senior officer gave commendations to Wednesday’s Transforming Our Police Service (TOPS) awards ceremony in which Area One received several awards.
There were commendations for the top customer service division, top division, top prisoners in custody station, and top station.
In addition, an award was also given for the top school poster competition.
“It is good to see a civilian entity lauding the police, applauding the police, giving support to the police as they help us to be better at our job,” stated Chambers.