MONTEGO BAY, St James - With the parish of St James recording more than 15 murders since the start of the year, mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, has called for stiffer penalties for individuals found guilty of committing heinous crimes.
“Our security forces, [despite] the intelligence gathering and hard work they have been putting in, still have a tremendous battle on their hands to get the desired results. It can only mean that tougher measures will have to be put in place to curb the insatiable appetite these criminals have for murder,” said Williams during the regular monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) recently.
“It is time the legislation that seeks to create severe penalties for traders of illegal firearms and ammunition, as well as persons with illegal possession of firearms, be promulgated and implemented. I am therefore calling on the Government to expedite this process so that the murder by guns can be curtailed.”
Williams stated that he believes the legislation, when implemented, may bring a “paradigm shift in crime fighting”.
“This might very well be the paradigm shift in crime fighting so that the citizens of this country can realise Vision 2030 of Jamaica becoming the place to live, work, raise families and do business,” he stated.
While noting that the SJMC has not been “spared from the death angel seemingly surrounding the parish,” the mayor spoke dearly of two individuals who he said have worked closely with the corporation and were “brutally murdered”.
“We at the St James Municipal Corporation have not been spared the spectre of death as one of our municipal police was brutally murdered on New Year's Eve. I am also being reminded that the gentleman who assisted us with the bucket truck [and] decorating our Christmas tree was also brutally murdered,” said Williams.
The senseless killing of municipal police Jermaine Evans has left the corporation in a state of despair, he shared.
“For days, even now, a pall of gloom overshadows the municipal corporation as we mourn the death of the self-assuming hard-working and law-abiding municipal police officer,” he stated.
“Our municipal officers were so traumatised and they were in such a somber mood that we had to call in personnel to give them counselling.”
Last year, the police recorded 160 murders in the parish of St James — an increase of roughly 26 per cent over 2020.