Head of Area One police welcomes expected JDF battalion
Assistant Commissioner of Police Warren Clarke, head of the Area One Police Division, has welcomed Prime Minister Andrew Holness' announcement that 500 Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel will be sent to western Jamaica to curb the crime rate in that part of the island.
"We have had an established working relationship with the JDF over many years and we look forward to any assistance that will come our way in terms of that kind of policy move," Clarke told The Gleaner on Friday.
"We anticipate the effect in that our efforts will be very much enhanced with their coming. In fact, we already have substantive assistance from the JDF, and if they are going to increase their footprints (presence) here, it will just enhance our overall security efforts in the west," Clarke continued.
In his new year's message to the nation earlier this week, Holness announced that the Government would split the police's western operational command in two and that a JDF battalion - which comprises between 500 and 600 soldiers - would be assigned to western Jamaica to help the police in arresting the spiralling crime monster.
"There will be restructuring of the security forces to increase operation and administrative focus on the western parishes, which will see the western operational area for the police split into two and the JDF presence increased to a battalion stationed in Montego Bay along with other infrastructure improvements to accommodate these changes," Holness said.
"We have already started to seek international support in technical and strategic areas from friendly countries, however, every Jamaican must recognise that no foreign country can solve our crime problem or sponsor a solution. We must solve our crime problem as a nation," Holness added.
Last November, JDF Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade announced plans to deploy a battalion of personnel to western Jamaica.
St James recorded the highest number of murders in the Area One division and in the entire island for 2016, with 268 persons killed out of Jamaica's overall murder tally of 1,350.