RESIDENTS of Parade Gardens, Kingston Central, on Sunday expressed confidence in the leadership of newly appointed chief of defence staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, who they have also described as inspiring.
Wemyss Gorman toured the area where a zone of special operations (ZOSO) was declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on January 9. The security measure will be in place for 60 days.
One resident, who gave his name only as Massa and who said he was born in the area and grew up there, told the Jamaica Observer that seeing the “boss lady” walking through the area had him feeling very good.
“It's like God sen' her come. And I get to see her personally and she looks elegant, and I feel proud,” he said, while hailing the police and members of the JDF in the area for doing a “magnificent job”.
“It's been a long time that the conflict has been going on and it's good now; we can walk up and down and run up and down,” he said.
“We're glad to see 'mama' [Wemyss Gorman]. Big up every time,” he added.
Another resident, Patrice Halves, who was watching the tour with family, said she felt “100 per cent great” to see Wemyss Gorman and her team.
“To see her come in the community makes me feel good,” she said. “As a woman representing for the JDF, she inspires me 100 per cent.”
She said there has been no more violence since the joint police/JDF operation in the area. “We have peace. You can walk as you like, sit down as you like, do anything you like. I like it and I hope they stay... I would wish for them to stay.”
Wemyss Gorman toured sections of the ZOSO where she met with security forces personnel on the ground and also spoke with residents.
Residents within the boundary of the ZOSO have been guardedly hopeful about the measure that came as Kingston Central, which has been turned into an active war zone by competing gangs, for the period January 1 to December 31 last year recorded 79 murders — an increase of 55 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2020, making it the second-highest percentage increase among all police divisions, averaging about three murders every two weeks.
Parade Gardens, the police have said, recorded 16 of these murders and is ranked among the top 10 communities with the highest murder rate across the country.
Last week, Wemyss Gorman said she is committed to changing the culture of violence affecting the country.
“As we deal with issues of safety and security as a nation, I am confident that the JDF is prepared to confront the challenges to our peace and security,” she said as she addressed the audience during the Change of Command Parade at Up Park Camp in St Andrew.
She noted that the JDF “must maintain its steadfast support and commitment to citizens, and work diligently to defeat the threats to safety and collective existence”.