Bunting gives cops thumbs up for big drop in serious crimes
Members of the police force have come in for much commendation from Minister of National Security Peter Bunting for what he described as their "strong performance" in fighting crime over the past year.
In a letter to Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams, Bunting said he was particularly pleased with the greater attention to appropriate use of force, reflected in the 54 per cent reduction in police fatal shootings.
Using the figures from the preliminary Serious Crime Report for 2014, the minister highlighted a 16 per cent reduction in serious and violent crimes in a single year as "very significant", pointing out that every category showed double-digit reductions.
While he did not provide any comparative statistics for 2014 or the previous year, Bunting cited a 16 per cent decrease in overall murders, shootings falling by 12 per cent, rape by 23 per cent, and aggravated assault by 17 per cent.
He went on to attribute the 19 per cent reduction in arrests, primarily for minor offences, and the virtual elimination of the use of curfews by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as "another signal of its increased concern with the rights of citizens - in this case their right to freedom".
Added Bunting: "Many divisional commanders and their teams embraced the partnership approach advocated by the ministry under the Unite for Change initiative. As a result, encouraging reductions in murder are occurring in a number of our toughest urban police divisions, including St Andrew Central, at 40 per cent; St Andrew South, at 39 per cent; and Kingston West, at 22 per cent."
He acknowledged the contribution of the Church, schools, civil-society groups, and citizens of goodwill to the significant reduction.
Most rural police divisions also recorded double-digit reductions in murder, but St Thomas, at 63 per cent; Westmoreland, at 43 per cent; and St Elizabeth, at 32 per cent, received special mention for their results.
"What is truly extraordinary is that these results were achieved under extremely tight fiscal constraints, particularly as it affected the mobility of the force, but also in other areas, including equipment," the minister noted. "Credit must go both to the aspiring leadership of the gazetted officers and especially to the unwavering commitment of the men and women of the JCF to serve, protect and reassure the people of Jamaica, notwithstanding these challenges."