Life after SOE in Whitehouse, WestmorelandWednesday, June 09, 2021
WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland — Nine months after the State of Public Emergency (SOE) officially came to an end in parishes including this one, residents still have mixed views about the enhanced security measure.
Trevor Cole, a fisherman who has been living and working in Whitehouse for over 30 years, thinks the SOE was ineffective and would rather not see its return.
“When dem did deh yah mi neva really see the sense cause dem kill a man just couple metres from the soldier dem so it never mek no sense to mi. People couldn't go bout dem business an mek a likkle money cause police and soldier used to stop and search dem,” he told OBSERVER ONLINE. “Mi wouldn't mind if dem nuh come back cause road can run yah now. People can guh bout dem business in peace.”
Other residents disagreed, saying they had seen a welcome improvement in the fight against crime when the SOE was in effect.
“I think it was better when dem was here because dem do dem checks and such. Crimes and so still happened but the soldiers were more serious. Me woulda want them come back cause since dem gone a two robberies happen inna the area,” said one Whitehouse resident, who opted not to provide her name.
One of her male neighbours agreed, saying, in his view, there had been a decrease in crime during the SOE.
“It did good man. Mi coulda walk round the place an nuh feel no way. The murder dem did a go down likkle bit but dem a come up back now. [And it's] not just Whitehouse, but in other areas too like Sandy Ground,” said the man who opted not to be identified by name.
Area residents were not the only ones weighing in on the issue. A police constable who works in the traffic department theorised that violent crimes had decreased during the SOE, adding that he would not be opposed to another as it deterred certain criminal acts.
“It gave us certain powers to stop everyone who was traversing to find out their purpose for being on the road [at] certain hours, to apprehend wanted persons and illegal firearms and drugs that would have been passing through on a daily basis,” he said.
According to data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, for the period January 1, 2021 to June 7, 2021 murders in the parish went up by 21 per cent and shootings increased by 49 per cent when compared with the same period for 2020. Meanwhile, crimes such as rapes, robberies and break-ins decreased by an average of 35.6 per cent, with rapes having the highest decline at 67 per cent.
In the western region of the country, the SOE was first implemented in St James in January 2018, and the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland were added on April 30, 2019, following a surge in murders.
The SOEs have been extended on numerous occasions, with the latest extension coming on June 21, 2020. The June renewal was scheduled to end on September 3, but the Houses of Parliament voted to end the current SOEs on August 17 2020.
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