End of Mount Salem ZOSO around the corner?Thursday, June 24, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James - The first zone of special operations (ZOSO), declared in Mount Salem in September 2017, could be drawing to a close soon.
Although carefully avoiding the provision of a specific timetable, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson indicated that normal policing will evolve from the ZOSO to the soon-to-be opened police station in Mount Salem being constructed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $43.5 million, with funding from the European Union.
“We are just about to open the Mount Salem Police Station which will also focus on the area of the Mount Salem zone of operations as we look at some point – and I am not giving any timeline on this – transitioning from the zone back to normal policing activities there,” Major General Anderson stated.
He also indicated that it was too early to determine if the ZOSO that Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared in Norwood on Sunday will have a similar life span as Mount Salem's.
“Too early to say. Remember, we really follow a clear, built-in strategy around the zones of special operations. So, in the early stages we do a number of operations against the gangs... gang members and criminals, and then we hold the ground to make sure it is safe for other parts of government to come in and provide the services that people want in their communities,” the police commissioner explained.
“It's a long-term commitment and that's why all of the zones have been put in place in a very deliberate way. Just because we have a spike somewhere doesn't mean we are necessarily going to put a zone of special operation there. We have a range of policing responses that we can do when violence increases and we use them. We are using some in Kingston at the moment to reduce what is happening there, but when a zone goes into place it is a long-term commitment to a community.”
The commissioner was speaking to reporters during his visit to the ZOSO in Norwood on Tuesday.
ZOSOs now exist in Norwood and Mount Salem, St James; Denham Town, West Kingston; as well as Greenwich Town and August Town in St Andrew.
Major General Anderson also underscored that the rampant criminal activities that were reported in and spilling over into other communities from Norwood gave rise to the ZOSO in the community.
“There are certain circumstances that a community has that lends itself towards a zone of special operations and that is that you have a long-term criminal activity, usually gang warfare in that community over time and shootings, killings in that area and it may also impact other areas.
“So, as I said in the press conference on Sunday, it was important that Norwood, being a crossroads to what happens in this part of St James and impacts even as far as downtown Montego Bay, that we do an intervention here,” the commissioner declared.
He disclosed that as at Tuesday seven individuals had been arrested and charged for various crimes in Norwood. He noted that it was two weeks after the occupation of the area before the first firearm was recovered during the first ZOSO that was declared in Mount Salem, nearly four years ago, but, already, after three days three illegal firearms have so far been recovered in the Norwood ZOSO.
“We have recovered three firearms in the three days. So we are continuing our operations. When we launched the first one [ZOSO] I think it took 14 days to find the first weapon. So we are ahead of that curve now. The more we use these tools, the better we get at it. And, I think it will redound to the benefit of the people,” Anderson said.
Lieutenant Colonel Champlini Henry of the Jamaica Defence Force and Superintendent of Police Vernon Ellis of the Jamaica Constabulary Force are jointly in charge of operations within the Norwood area.
A ZOSO is declared under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act. It seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives.
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