No SOE, no problem
Cop says the west will be safe this Christmas
CHAMBERS… the continuation of police presence will be there.

MONTEGO BAY, St James - Even though he and his team will no longer be able to benefit from a Government-imposed state of public emergency, commander of the Area One Police Division Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers is guaranteeing the safety of members of the public during the Yuletide season.

"Going into the Yuletide season we will continue the same operational posture as the state of emergency, except the soldiers will not have the authority of constable," ACP Chambers told the Jamaica Observer West.

"The guarantee is that there is going to be continued, heightened police presence, continued visibility, highly patrolled roads, a number of vehicular check points, road blocks, person check point, person stop and account and the continued search techniques will be done where intelligence points us to conduct those," he added.

He said there will also be continued targeting of high value operatives, those who are wanted by the police and fugitives.

"As we move into the Yuletide we will have higher visibility within the built up areas, etcetera. But certainly the continuation of police presence will be there," Chambers assured.

On November 15, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of public emergency (SOE) in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, as well as Clarendon, St Catherine and sections of Kingston and St Andrew in an attempt to cauterise the fallout from a runaway crime rate.

But after 14 days the enhanced security measure came to an end after the Opposition, citing concerns about its constitutionality and effectiveness, voted against an extension.

Under an SOE, the Government grants the security forces temporary additional powers including being able to search a person or building without a warrant, to arrest and detain individuals (for up to seven day) without a warrant and the ability to limit the operating hours of businesses.

Now without the SOE, ACP Chambers said there will be heavy reliance on the Operation Relentless team which is made up of both police and soldiers (without constabulary powers).

"We will still be able to be effective across the divisions because of the influx of new members which will be joining next week… Area One will be in receipt of a lot of them," he assured.

In addition, 80 per cent of lawmen who usually work from the office will be deployed to the streets for the holidays and special focus will be on preventing robberies, Chambers said.

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

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