No ZOSO but security forces flood for Central Kingston— Police CommissionerSunday, June 20, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— The community of Central Kingston where murders are significantly up this year when compared to 2020 -- and where women have staged weekly demonstrations over the past month, calling for a Zone of Special Operation (ZOSO) -- has been targeted for special intervention by the security forces Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson has said.
Anderson was speaking at Jamaica House on Sunday, where Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that a fifth ZOSO has been declared in Norwood, St James with a view to arresting the ongoing crime problem in that community.
Holness, in responding to a reporter's question about whether a ZOSO will be declared for Central Kingston, which is being torn apart by gang violence, and where political representatives of both major political parties have called for one, said the community is one of 20 under consideration for the special security measure.
“It may not be today but somewhere down the road, some of those communities in Central Kingston will be declared. I will say to the citizens, I understand your distress and we are working to bring long term peace to your community,” Holness stated.
“In the interim, we have mobilised other measures within the toolbox of measures that we have which have been severely hampered by not having the states of emergency measures,” the prime minister added.
He then called on Commissioner Anderson who elaborated on the measures that are currently being employed by the security forces in Central Kingston and other Corporate Area communities to restore peace in the affected space.
Anderson said there are stepped up joint police/military patrols in the affected communities.
“Also, we (the Jamaica Constabulary Force) have repositioned some of our own resources to hold some space to deny the gangs the freedom of movement that they perhaps previously had,” Anderson disclosed.
He said: “We're also directly targeting those gang members to get them into custody and also the people who are supporting them (from) abroad, through, and with our partners.”
Anderson said the JCF was also working with local partners to target the resources of the criminals operating within the space.
“What the community should be seeing is far more police and soldiers there but that's not the extent of the operations,” he said.
The Commissioner highlighted that the police recently arrested eight of the major gang players operating within Central Kingston and seized up to ten firearms and over 100 rounds of ammunition over the past three weeks.
“We're in there, we're going to continue our work, we're working with the community to alleviate this issue as soon as possible,” Anderson stressed, adding that this was being done in central, eastern and western Kingston as well as the St Andrew South police divisions. The top cop explained that the targeted area is that southern crescent from Duhaney Park all the way to Bull Bay, St Andrew, where pockets of violence have flared.
“The challenge being faced in Kingston is not limited to Central Kingston or the Parade Gardens area. It extends over into what is the East Kingston police division and over on the western side, into Western Kingston, onwards on to the St Andrew South police division,” said the Commissioner.
The commissioner said that a tour of the Parade Gardens community in Central Kingston last Friday showed a community suffering from violence fatigue.
“Communities end up with violence fatigue when both the perpetrators of violence and the people being killed know each other, live in the same community, grew up together and went to the same schools. That's happening within the communities (and for) neighbouring communities, gang conflicts are playing out,” Anderson said.
Between January 1 and June 16, Kingston Central recorded 34 murders. This was 10 more than for the corresponding period in 2020 or a 42 per cent increase.
Police statistics also show that there were 29 incidents of shooting. On the bright side, robberies have decreased by 50 per cent, from 22 last year to eleven in 2021.
At least 12 murders and several drive-by shootings, that have caused severe injury, occurred in Central Kingston over the period May 1 to June 16.
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