Mon | Aug 21, 2017

MoBay stakeholders demand better results in war against crime

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2017 | 3:00 AMMark Titus
Godfrey Dyer

WESTERN BUREAU:

While Senior Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, head of the St James Police Division, is blaming ignorance of policing strategies for the perception that the war again crime in the area is woefully lacking, his assertion is not finding favour with some major stakeholders in the parish.

Displeased with the crime-fighting situation, businessman Godfrey Dyer, who chairs the Tourism Enhancement Fund, said he wants to see greater effort being made to counter the constant bloodletting in the region.

"I will not be satisfied until our security forces make a serious breakthrough in this crime problem; I am still uncomfortable," said Dyer, who once served the Jamaica Constabulary Force as a top-flight detective based in Montego Bay. "They are making a reasonable effort, but it is now time for them to be on top. I am expecting more."

He added, "There needs to be more intensive control, and a more intensive investigative approach ... but they are trying."

With more and more gruesome murders rocking the parish, which has consistently been recording more than 100 murders every year since 2006, several law-enforcement measures, including having soldiers work alongside the police, have been tried, but with very little tangible results. So far this year, St James has recorded 45 murdered after a record 268 murders last year.

The neighbouring parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland are also being impacted by what many believe is spillover from St James. Already this year, Westmoreland has had 35 murders, including a quadruple killing on Saturday, while Hanover has had 19 murders.

... Western region engulfed in fear

Senior Superintendent of Police Marlon Nesbeth is dismissing as ridiculous, complaints by some residents of St James that the soldiers and police are operating more like 'tourists' than crime fighters because for the most part, they only drive through communities without engaging citizens to get the intelligence needed to identify and target criminals.

"There is always this talk from people who don't necessarily understand the operations of the police, and certainly the military, as to how we go about dealing with the issues that confront them and come also to us forcibly," the head of the St James Police Division stated in a Sunday Gleaner story of March 19.

However, stakeholders like businessman Godfrey Dyer, who chairs the Tourism Enhancement Fund, and Dr Lee Bailey, the chairman of the St James Police Civic Committee and chief executive officer of Caribbean Cruise and Shipping Tours, are concerned that the western region is now engulfed in fear.

Bailey believes this will ultimately affect Jamaica's tourism product if not seriously confronted.

"There is a great fear out there and our crime fighters do not understand the fear that I have, the fear out there among other citizens," Bailey told The Gleaner yesterday. "You have to go out, but each time I am to go out I am afraid, because we are in a time that if someone steps on your toe, you better be ready to tell the offender sorry."

Just last week, Pastor Knollis King, who heads the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace, said at times he felt like running away because, despite his best effort to combat the violence in his community with social programmes, lack of support is undermining his work.