MONTEGO BAY, St James - Commander of the Area One Police Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers, says the police are making steady progress in their steely resolve to push back members of the criminal gangs that are wreaking havoc across western Jamaica.
According to the police, more than 40 gangs operate across Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland, the four parishes that encompass the Area One Police Division.
“We are making some good inroads and we want to continue and again you can’t put a price on the information that we get from the general public. So, in short, we are getting some good traction,” ACP Chambers told the Jamaica Observer West.
“The fight against gangsters is never easy, but yes, we are making positive inroads and the inroads, again it cuts across being arrested and charged, being sentenced, having being convicted.”
The senior cop disclosed that some 21 of the gangs operating across the region are actively involved in either intra-gang warfare; against rival factions and other nefarious activities, triggering the profusion of bloodshed.
“We have in excess of 40 gangs in Area One, over 21 of which are active, whether gang-on-gang or intra-gang. And again these gangs cut across several policing divisions, but you will have some of the policing divisions that will have more than one gang operating in that police division,” ACP Chambers noted.
According to the Area One Police divisional head, the vast number of gangs with their membership scattered across policing divisions pose a challenge to the police.
“You will have more than one gang operating in a particular policing district. For example, Montego Hills has more than one volatile gang, Flanker more than one volatile gang.
“They do have other locations that they have other syndicates associated with them, and again this brings a little more complexity to how we manage, but yes, the numbers are creating a problem both in terms of gangs and the membership of gangs, but the numbers are also impacted by our policing efforts.
“But yes, we are getting some good success and we intend to continue with the posture that we have now because we are of the view that just a change in posture is giving us some success,” said the ACP.
The Area One commander revealed that very shortly “we intend to augment the members on the ground with those tactically trained persons that we intend to get out there”.
He noted that the tactically trained personnel will not be primarily focusing on routine policing but their targets “will be high-value targets across the entire Area One”.
“We will be looking to persons who are wanted, persons of interest, and the more volatile of our society in Area One. Their (tactically trained cops) task will be more specifically up the line,” ACP Chambers said.
When pressed about the operations of the reputed G-City and Unknown gangs, which are rumoured to be behind some of the recent deadly shootings that have been reported in sections of St James, ACP Chambers argued that while “there are turfs which are common to both and that is a possible conflict”, he, however, said he could not confirm whether the two were at odds.
“So whilst I can comment on G-City and their influence — and that is one of the reason why they have been the target of our operation, of arrest, of gun recoveries, and are somehow under pressure, which we will continue — with regards to the Unknown, we are still looking to identify the main operatives there to target them in a meaningful way, but some of the known Unknown operatives have been targeted,” said ACP Chambers.
He disclosed that while it is premature to celebrate, with a recent intensified thrust by the police, there has been a drastic reduction of crime across Area One in recent weeks.
“For the last three weeks, we have been reaping tremendous success. We have reduced substantially to single digit murders. In January, February, March, April we always have double-digit murders in the parishes, but for the last three to four weeks we have reduced to single digit murders, which is good.
“But, more importantly, we have reduced to less than 17 major crimes being committed per week. For the first quarter: January, February, March, even up to April, we have been exceeding 20 crimes per week per division, and in the last couple of weeks with the new thrust and the new approach we are not even registering in excess of 17 major crimes across the entire Area One per week, so we are seeing some very good success,” he said.