St James to get 200 new cops today
The under-pressure St James Police Division, which has been grappling with a spate of murders in recent weeks, is to be strengthened by the addition of 200 police personnel today.
In the wake of two double murders and three other homicides between last Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning, the parish got back-to-back visits from National Security Minister Peter Bunting and Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams.
In affixing the blame for the rampant lawlessness, which has resulted in more than 120 murders since the start of the year, on the illicit lottery scam, Bunting promised the St James Police Division would be provided with additional resources to improve its capacity to take on the criminals.
"The criminal gangs interface with lottery scammers in different ways - from extortion to protection or otherwise providing some sort of service to the lottery scam," said Bunting. "So what we find is that organised crime is behind a lot of what we are seeing, manifesting itself in the murder rate."
Last Friday, the St James Police High Command started nightly curfews in some crime hot spots.
However, less than 48 hours into the new initiative, there was yet another murder.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, a man identified as 'Rhyme Minister' (not the entertainer) was chased and shot dead by an unknown assailant in the Green Pond community in full view of bewildered residents.
GOING ALL OUT
"We have seen a reduction in the violence since we started imposing the nightly curfews," said Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, head of the St James police. "We will be going all out to apprehend those persons who we believe are behind the violence."
In some communities, residents are sceptical about the approach of using stronger police presence and curfews instead of social-intervention programmes to address the problem.
"More police is not the answer ... . We should not have boys with six and seven CXCs (Caribbean Examinations Council exam passes) resorting to crime to generate earnings," a community activist, who asked not to be identified, told The Gleaner yesterday. "We need to create employment opportunities for these youngsters ... . We need to channel them into legitimate endeavours. If we don't, the criminal mayhem will never stop."