Help the cops
MoBay Chamber president urges businesses to act
HEAVEN... social intervention cannot come without money.

MONTEGO BAY, St James - Stressing the severity of the country's crime problem and the limited resources available to the police, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) Oral Heaven has made a fresh call for the city's business community to provide unlimited support to lawmen as they struggle to maintain law and order.

"If it is a situation where the police need anything, generally, there is no limit really. It is not just about cameras and CCTV, it is about assisting. If they have a room and they want it to be painted and they want us to contribute, we the business community should contribute. As long as the police approach us and it is something that we can do, we should do it," he told the Jamaica Observer West on Tuesday.

With Government strapped for funding, Heaven added, public-private partnerships should be forged.

"Social intervention cannot come without money. Government doesn't have that money for social transformation. If we have companies that can take in two or three people to work, take some people off the street, do something," he urged.

Members of the security forces at the border of Trelawny and St James during the last SOE.

The chamber already has plans, he said, to do its part.

"We are going to start a mentorship programme through the chamber to help, especially men. We need companies to take on these boys. Let us mentor them," he implored.

He was expanding on comments made last Saturday as he welcomed attendees to the MBCCI Annual Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

During his address, Heaven had called for all hands on deck to help the police in their fight to arrest crime.

"It is time we come together in unity and strength to step on this beast called crime. None of us can single-handedly curtail this monster. The Government alone cannot do it," he told influential members of Montego Bay's business community.

Heaven lauded the work being done by cops in St James as he appealed to his peers to support the pushback against crime. Lawmen's toolkit, he said, included the incorporation of "social intervention measures supported by the business community, the entrepreneurs of Montego Bay who continue to be resilient as they seek to remain excellent in their entrepreneurial ventures".

But more needs to be done, he said.

"We know that the police are doing what they can with the little resources that they have. They have a mountain of a task ahead of them but with very little resources in person and equipment such as motor vehicles to assist them in fighting this demon," Heaven remarked

"Let us all do what we can to assist in maintaining order and fighting criminality and violence. When as a business community you are approached for assistance, please give a helping hand where you can, resources are needed to fight crime," he added.

Up to December 5, there were 192 murders recorded in St James, 30.6 per cent more than the corresponding period last year.

On Tuesday, the parish was once again placed under a state of public emergency (SOE), one of several across the country where the Government believes it needs special measures to rein in crime. According to Commissioner of Police Major General Anthony Anderson, there was an increase in murders in several parishes after SOEs expired last week.

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

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