'We are in full control,' says St James top copFriday, October 08, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Despite Wednesday afternoon's car chase through the streets of Montego Bay that ended with three dead and five injured, assistant commissioner of police for Area One Clifford Chambers says the police are in “full control”.
As of October 5, St James had recorded 117 murders since the start of the year, a 34 per cent increase over last year. However, Chambers is adamant that a wider look at all that his team has accomplished shows that the police are not losing their fight with criminals.
“Last year we had zones of special operations and so the parish itself was a little bit below in terms of murders. This year, the St James Division has seen a negative impact in terms of all major crimes [except] murders. [We have also] seen an uptick in the number of convictions that have been heard in the courts since the start of the year, and what we have also learned is that the parish itself is leading in terms of gun recoveries across all other parish divisions islandwide. So, when you look at the totality of the work, effort, and contribution of the [police] in St James, the records are there to speak for themselves. We are in full control,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
He stressed, however, that the police need residents to speak up, a call that has been frequently made by political representatives and lawmen. Yesterday's joint operation between the police and the military, a search for those responsible for Wednesday's shooting, was futile. The police are counting on residents' help to break the case.
“The police know the gangs that are involved, the persons of interest and the members who are associated with the gang. My level of confidence somehow rests on the level of support we get from the community. So even though we do have the technology and we do have good investigative capabilities, the latitude of law enforcement is limited to the extent where we get support from these persons who know them, who know their hangout, who know their associates, and who can provide good, positive information to the police,” Chambers said.
He added: “This space is far and wide, and what we have observed is that since the operation started they are not in the places that one would normally expect them to be, they have been displaced. So unless we can get good information from the public to continue targeting them, we may have an issue. I would just encourage the general public who see strange persons moving around in their space to find a way to reach out to the police, [pass on] the information and it will be dealt with accordingly.”
According to Chambers, Wednesday's gun attack was part of an ongoing gang feud in the parish. He said while he understands that fear may cause citizens to turn a blind eye to these heinous acts of crime, their input is vital to the police's efforts.
“The citizens have a responsibility to themselves and their family, so one may ask, 'How will I be secure thereafter?' Now, I can tell you that we do have a witness protection programme if it reaches to that stage. There are ways and means of providing information to the police without people know where they are coming from.”
A suspected gangster, who is on bail pending trial for the murder of a rival, was allegedly the intended target of Wednesday's incident. Chambers said the man, who ignored court instructions to stay away from the parish, was trailed from a funeral he had attended.