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Montague: We are reaping the whirlwind - Security minister cites social decay as he outlines response to St James violence

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2016 | 9:00 AMJovan Johnson
Montague

National Security Minister Robert Montague declared in Parliament yesterday that the deadly violence ravaging St James has been reaped from the social decay in the island and it is now time for everyone to admit their wrongs.

"We are reaping the whirlwind of the seeds of fractured family structures, poor parenting, or lack thereof, in homes, poor educational outcomes, negative socialisation, and the peer associations that encourage delinquency," Montague said.

He told the House of Representatives that those failings have led Jamaicans to join gangs, resulting in situations "that now manifest as a heartless scammer or teenage gunman with murderous intent".

Montague made the comments as he addressed the crime situation gripping the Second City and revealed short- and medium-term measures being pursued by the security forces and the Government.

He said that in the past 14 days, criminal gangs shot and killed 23 persons while injuring 13.

But he said that the two main perpetrators are among 98 people in custody over the violence. Thirty-seven have been charged.

In condemning the "barbaric murders", Montague said he recognised that "many of you feel helpless, hopeless, and powerless".

He said residents should not lose hope but cautioned against panic and knee-jerk reactions.

For the time being, the national security minister said a joint police-military operating centre has been established in Montego Bay that will oversee an increase in intelligence assets, personnel, and motor vehicles.

In addition, he said a redesigned and expanded closed-circuit television network is ready for installation in the parish.

Over the medium term, the Government will, among other things, establish 20 mobile police stations.

 

FEW SPECIFICS ON MAJOR REFORMS

 

Discussions, Montague said, are being had with the housing ministry to upgrade squatter settlements.

Forty dogs are being secured from Cuba for drug and gun detection and search and rescue.

On the legislative end, there were few specifics on potential major reforms, for example, amending the Proceeds of Crime Act, which Montague said was being done to "take the profit out of crime".

The Opposition seemed in support of the measures, although spokesman on security Peter Bunting raised questions about the reactivation of a tactical unit that last did duties in the May 2010 police-military operation.

"Crime transcends politics, religion, and class. Let us resolve to draw a line in the sand," Montague argued, adding that Jamaicans have an individual and collective responsibility to do better.

"We have all been weighed and found wanting."

Montague did not provide a cost to the Montego Bay response.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com