Scammer appeal - Commish wants secret disclosures from Mobay business interests; Bunting calls for emergency measures
Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams is calling for business operators in western Jamaica to collaborate with the security forces by secretly exposing lottery scammers who they may be facilitating.
Fielding questions from the media Saturday afternoon at the Montego Freeport Police Station, Williams said: "A lot of people in businesses know about the people who are committing crimes in relation to lottery scamming. We would like them to tell us what's happening, even if they cannot refuse to do business with these scammers. They can tell us what's happening."
Qualifying his statement, he said that he was not saying the practice was pervasive across the business sector in western Jamaica, "but it does happen that some businesses facilitate the scammers, wittingly or unwittingly".
Williams' appeal came hours after another set of murders believed to be spurred by lottery scamming were committed in St James.
Nine persons were shot in the usually quiet community of New Ramble in Bogue last Friday night, three succumbed to their injuries.
According to the police commissioner, lottery scamming figured in the shooting.
In fact, he argued that lottery scamming was at the heart of many of the murders and shootings that have been wreaking havoc in the west.
Since the start of the year, murders in St James have doubled those of two adjoining parishes combined.
One hundred and twenty-four persons have died in St James, compared to 49 and 18, respectively, in Westmoreland and Hanover.
Trelawny is the lowest with 10 murders committed so far this year.
Compared to the same period last year, St James has seen a 20 per cent increase and a 50 per cent increase over 2014.
"Lottery scamming is the evil that is so pervasive across Jamaica. It is the most significant reason for the upsurge in violence," said Williams as he called for communities not to turn a blind eye to scamming happening in their midst.
Pointing out that the west was under the gun, the police commissioner said the criminals seem to be roaming the parishes and committing atrocities with impunity.
In addition to the elevated presence of police in Montego Bay, Williams announced on Saturday that within a day or two, a number of detectives from Kingston would be assigned to Montego Bay to assist the local sleuths in developing and building various case files.
He said: "With so many murders over a short period, you can appreciate that they (local detectives) are going to need additional help to do their own investigations."
But yesterday, Opposition Spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting appealed for even further measures to halt the crime wave in western Jamaica.
Bunting called for National Security Minister Robert Montague to persuade Cabinet to make an emergency allocation of budgetary resources to assist the security forces in addressing the current flare-up of murders and shootings.
The opposition spokesman, Montague's predecessor in the ministry, made three specific recommendations, starting with "sustained saturation" patrolling.
"Cash resources will be necessary, as personnel from Mobile Reserve, Motorised Patrol, and elsewhere will require food, accommodation, fuel, and intelligence acquisition for prolonged effectiveness," Bunting said.
He also urged the acquisition of motorcycles and patrol vehicles, as a short-term force multiplier, and the relocation of more key assets and senior personnel to western Jamaica.
"The ministry and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should re-examine the recommendations of the 2014 Review of the JCF," Bunting said.
"The review recommended a decentralisation of key assets and high-ranking officers now in Kingston, and have them redeployed to Area One to reflect the geographic shift of crime."
He added: "In addition to a Mobile Reserve Western Base in Montpelier, key resources from CTOC (Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch), MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency), and NIB (National Intelligence Bureau) should also be reallocated to the west to target lottery scamming."
Bunting also said that while the JCF did not immediately accept the recommendation to put a deputy commissioner and additional senior officers in the west, with the benefit of hindsight, this recommendation should now be re-examined.
"I have deliberately refrained from commenting on the performance of the minister of national security, allowing him time to become familiar with the challenging portfolio. However, after four months on the job, it is not sufficient for him to ask the public to 'remain calm'," Bunting said.