Mon | Apr 24, 2017

Crime-plagued Cambridge wants more police officers

Published:Thursday | April 20, 2017 | 4:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Residents in Cambridge, St James, are pleading with the authorities to assign more police officers to the rural community, which has become a major hotspot for crime and violence in recent months.

The fearful residents made their plea during a recent community forum, where they voiced their concerns about the escalating crime situation and the limited police presence in the community and its adjoining districts.

"We need officers on foot patrols in Cambridge," said Ralph Henderson, an elderly resident, who has watched with dismay the rapid rate at which the community has been transformed from peace and tranquillity to mayhem and escalating murders.

 

Foot patrols needed

 

Born and raised in the Cambridge community, Henderson told the forum that it was not enough to just have patrol units driving around the community. According to him, the police officers should be walking the streets and interacting with the people.

"If you want to catch the thieves, then you can't deh drive up and down in a vehicle. That can't work," said Henderson. "Cambridge is a big area, and seven police (officers) alone cannot patrol the community. It can't work. We need more police, we need foot patrols."

... Shortage of cops affects troubled St James communities - DSP Powell

Responding to concerns of the residents of the crime-plagued Cambridge in St James, Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell admits that the community needs more officers. However, he notes that the situation is not unique to the community as there is a general shortage of police officers in many troubled communities across the parish.

"The need (for police officers) is great in the parish, particularly in Montego Bay, Mt Salem, and Montego Hills, and so on," said Powell. "When you go to these communities, you will hear similar comments from the people."

 

Matter under discussion

 

Powell said that the parish's Police High Command is cognisant of the need to have uniformed police personnel walking the streets of the community and he indicated that the matter was under discussion.

"It is important for persons to see uniformed police walking around because it provides a level of comfort," said Powell. "This issue has been discussed at our management meetings, and so it is not something that we are not aware of, but as I said, the need is great, and we have to respond to the needs not only in Cambridge, but other areas of the parish also."

At present, one of the parish's most feared criminal gang operates out of the Retrieve community, which adjoins Cambridge. In December of last year, the police reportedly killed two prominent members of the gang, but other gangsters remain at large in the area.