COMMISSIONER Of Police Major General Antony Anderson says the seventh zone of special operations (ZOSO) declared in Parade Gardens, Kingston, is yielding some results.
The ZOSO was declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on January 9. The security measure will be in place for 60 days.
“Since then, the people of Parade Gardens have had some respite from the ongoing violence. The heavy deployment of the police and military as the joint force, along with a suite of activities in surrounding areas, has had the desired effect of reducing the freedom of actions of gangs and thereby reducing, to some degree, the fear within the community,” Anderson said.
He noted, too, that 18 of 20 persons of interest who were being sought have been interviewed, and two remain in custody.
“We are also seeing signs of former rivals willing to come to speak to each other when facilitated by us,” the commissioner said.
Major General Anderson was speaking at a virtual press conference on Sunday where Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a ZOSO for southern Savanna-la-Mar, in Westmoreland.
He said the ZOSOs are used in conjunction with several other operational activities, noting that the police force, along with its military partners, is constantly adjusting to counter emerging violent conflicts.
“The heavy use of intelligence and some adjustments to our responses has led to the seizure of nine firearms and the arrest in Mountain View of a significant figure in the illegal arms trade,” the commissioner said.
He said the establishment of zones of special operations has been one of the tools used as a response to violence. “It has been done in a very methodical and carefully planned way. It is resource-intensive and requires a long-term commitment from the police and the military,” he pointed out.
The boundaries of the Parade Gardens ZOSO are north — beginning at the East Street/East Queen Street intersection and extending in an easterly direction along East Queen Street to the intersection with lower South Camp Road; east — in a southerly direction along South Camp Road to the intersection with Harbour Street; south – in a westerly direction along Harbour Street to the intersection with East Street; and west, in a northerly direction along East Street, terminating at the intersection with East Queen Street.
Under The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, an area can be declared a ZOSO once there is rampant criminality, gang warfare, escalating violence and murder, and a threat to the rule of law.
The law allows for measures to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives in areas where the operation is being undertaken.
An area can be declared a ZOSO by the prime minister after being advised in writing by the chief of defence staff and commissioner of police.
There are seven ZOSOs in the island. They are established in southern Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland; Parade Gardens, central Kingston; Denham Town, west Kingston; Norwood and Mount Salem, St James; and Greenwich Town and August Town, St Andrew.