Negril business operators welcome steps to address uptick in crime
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Lighthouse Inn II operator Dalton Hill said he had sleepless nights of fear because of last week’s surge in robberies and other criminal activities in Negril. However, after a stakeholders’ meeting in the resort town on Sunday, Hill is declaring that he can now rest peacefully.
“I am able and willing to rest well tonight because this discussion has put me in a position where my mind is more at ease. So, I thank the police and the Member of Parliament (MP) and all the business people who have voiced their opinion as to what they believe should be done,” stated Hill. He was referring to MP for Westmoreland Western Morland Wilson.
The special security meeting held on Sunday in the resort town was called by Negril Chamber of Commerce to facilitate discussions on the current state of security in Negril and to suggest and implement solutions.
During the meeting it was revealed that, starting Monday, the police will be ramping up its presence and resources in the parish.
Among the resources to be implemented is a boost to the quick response team in the parish, which will be receiving an undisclosed number of motorcycles from the 74 the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) received last week.
Other measures include placing additional cops in the town, the provision of a WhatsApp number for stakeholders to communicate directly with the police, and the seeking of external resources within the JCF, including the counter-terrorism and organised crime branch. A joint policy/military patrol will also continue.
In recent times there have been killings and a series of robbery sprees, between Little London and Negril, which have been committed by a syndicate of criminals in and outside of the parish who have been targeting bars, supermarkets and other business places.
Last Friday the police held seven people (six men and one female) from St James. They were intercepted in Little London. Three vehicles have also been seized.
Acting Head of the Westmoreland Police, Deputy Superintendent Adrian Hamilton told Sunday’s meeting that the police are committed to putting an end to the uptick in crime.
“I will also tell you that we are not resting. We are not going to stop. Right now as we speak, the team is on it. We are putting things together, we are linking the investigations, we are using technology, and we will get to them,” said Hamilton in reference to people involved in recent criminal activities. “I am committing it to you that we are not going to rest — even if no other robberies are committed between now and that time. The perpetrators who have done this to the community will pay for it,” the tough-speaking cop assured, to a round of applause.
One Love Bus Tour operator and chairperson of Negril Coral Reefs Preservation Society Lenbert Williams noted that while Sunday’s meeting was successful, it should be a precursor to other meetings. He said the community needs to work together.
“Don’t fool ourselves, police alone can’t do this. Next week my organisation — Negril Awesome WhatsApp group — is going to institute a business neighbourhood watch where people share information and people become extremely vigilant where I watch your back, you watch my back,” stated Williams.
He argued that other measures, such as zones of special operations (ZOSO) and states of public emergency (SOE), are not working.
President of Negril Chamber of Commerce Elaine Allen Bradley said that coming out of the meeting, the police have heard first-hand how fearful the community is and how they are willing to assist them in doing their job more effectively.
She expressed concern that the police are under-resourced.
“You cannot ask somebody to do a difficult job and you don’t give them the tools to work with. And we think Negril is deserving of it because of the amount of [money we put in the Government’s] coffers [and] that we put into the government institutions like tourism (for a start) where we bring in a whole lot of revenue. We could bring more if they would only develop Negril and put in more infrastructure,” argued Allen Bradley.
She noted that while the resort area has grown, the supporting infrastructure has not been upgraded.
Similar to other meetings, including ones held with National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang in the past, the issue of streamlining the JamaicaEye initiative to make it more effective in the area was raised.
The chamber president noted that while working cameras are in the area, more are needed. She pointed out that while the business community agrees that the Government does not have the money to place cameras everywhere, and has thus offered to purchase cameras and tie them into the network, getting the green light has been a nightmare.
“We have been at this now for a few years and we have come together and said, ‘Can you tell us how we can help you to do your job more effectively?’ We are still waiting on them to give us a spec of the camera,” stated Allen Bradley.
“The chamber has had a meeting with the guy who is in charge of JamaicaEye and nothing has come out of it so we don’t know now how to move forward,” she bemoaned.