Aiming for a Jamaica where criminals have no place to hide
Residents of Porus in Manchester want these idle tracks at the Porus Train Station transformed into a bustling market space to provide job opportunities and to boost commerce in the area. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

PORUS, in south-east Manchester just above the border with Clarendon, has long had the reputation as a "town which never sleeps".

Hence our consternation at news that since the gun murder of a supermarket operator and another resident by robbers just under two months ago, people are so fearful that the community has become a virtual "ghost town" after dark.

In our story on Sunday, business operators told our reporter of the double murder's debilitating effect.

"Porus was a place where people would be out until after three in the morning and you never one day feel unsafe …. Now, by 7:00 pm everybody a hustle up fi go a dem yard. Nobody wants to be on the road. It set Porus a way…," one woman said.

Such stories abound in once crime-free, deep-rural communities.

Only recently we reported on rising fear in Malvern and surrounding districts, atop the Santa Cruz Mountains in St Elizabeth.

In that traditionally quiet, peaceful farming region where Jamaicans like to believe it is still possible to sleep with windows and doors open, criminal activity — even if still relatively isolated — is driving that fear.

However, all is not lost. We are buoyed by news that in January, murders — for most people the lead indicator of crime trends — fell significantly across Jamaica, compared to the similar period in early 2022.

Police say that from January 1 to 29 there were 86 murders. That's way too many. But that represents a 37.2 per cent drop from 137 murders for the similar period last year.

That decline occurred amid growing evidence that current police surveillance strategies, people-based intelligence gathering, increasing coordination among stakeholder agencies at home and abroad, and partnerships between governments, are bearing fruit.

We refer, in particular, to increasing reports of large gun/ammunition and drug finds at points of entry.

Weaponry, usually originating in the United States, intended for criminals here, is sent by evildoers with an eye for profit and with vested interest in maintaining a crime-plagued Jamaica.

In the case of the highly addictive, illegal drug cocaine — which is a money spinner on the streets of American cities — the source is usually Latin America with Jamaica used as a transshipment point.

We know that if the smuggled guns, ammo and drugs dry up, the crime numbers will continue to fall. More power, therefore, to the strategies that are reaping rewards. We expect that in short order more of the big players driving such evil will be caught and put away.

But we also know that for a long-term solution to crime, the call from the St Elizabeth police at their recent public meeting in Malvern for organised, orderly, law-abiding community action to assist crime fighters should be implemented in every nook and cranny.

Twinned to that, we believe, should be comprehensive social interventions targeting the poorest so that Jamaicans at every level can feel they have a stake in a stable, crime-free society.

We contend and will continue to say that if, as a society, we can bring all the above elements together in a comprehensive, integrated approach, criminals will eventually find themselves with no place to hide.

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