MoBay first to hit 100 murder mark … stakeholders petrified…mull solutions
Following the gun-slaying of four persons, last weekend, St James now has the dubious distinction of being the first parish to record 100 murders since the start of the year, raising fears that criminals are again operating with impunity.
"I am deeply worried by the situation, especially in communities such as Mt Salem and Flankers, where I visited last night with the commanding officer for the St James police, Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor," said Montego Bay's mayor, Councillor Glendon Harris.
"It is difficult to plan strategies to deal with what is happening, because most of
the killings appear to be random acts,"
continued Harris. "Right now we have the army out in full force patrolling with the police," said Harris.
turning a blind eye
The mayor said the time has come for all law-abiding citizens to take a stance against criminality, arguing that turning a blind eye was no longer an option for those who desire peace.
"Too many persons are mixed up in underground activities, which is the root cause of many of these killings," said Harris. "We must cooperate by helping the police to identify these criminals if we want safe communities ... 102 murders since the start of the year is something to be worried about."
While not slighting those who are being killed, the mayor said the majority of the victims are involved in criminal schemes.
"Not a lot of innocent persons are being killed ... it is mostly persons who are mixed up," said Harris. "People must be encouraged to pursue legitimate ventures and stop seeing crime as an option."
Earlier this year, Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams assigned SSP McGregor and a team of six top-flight investigators to St James with a mandate to rein in the lawlessness. However, after a positive start in which several wanted men were apprehended and guns and ammunition seized, the killings are again coming to the fore.
"These killings are some one-off situations ... I call them lifestyle killings ... most of our murders are by first-time offenders," McGregor, told The Gleaner in a recent interview. "... there is something within the structure of the family, the lifestyle, which is fuelling the kind of actions that we are getting."
Like Mayor Harris, Gloria Henry, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is deeply disturbed that a time when serious efforts are being made to stimulate economic growth, crime is threatening to derail the effort.
"We must all move swiftly to cauterise the spiralling murder rate with a multi-faceted social intervention programme," said Henry. "Collectively, we have to delve deep into the roots of some of these communities that are affected and become proactive partners for meaningful and sustainable change."