Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Ready for action - PM's constituents want special zone clampdown after multiple murders

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force on patrol in Olympic Gardens yesterday, hours after multiple murders in the community.
A joint military-police team on patrol in Olympic Gardens yesterday, hours after multiple murders in the community.
Vivienne McLeod (left) and her husband, Oneil McLeod, speaking about the death of their son, Joseph, in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew.

Following the merciless slaying of three persons along Hill Avenue in Olympic Gardens on Monday evening, residents say their community, which is located in the West Central St Andrew constituency represented by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is now ripe for establishing the first zone of special operations.

Residents argue that it was important to send the right signal, saying that the prime minister's constituency, or "sections of it", according to them, should be used as an example.

"I definitely would support that move. I think it would make good sense that the special zone is set up here. The murderers must know that the law must stand and they cannot win the fight," one resident told The Gleaner.

The Zones of Special Operations Bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives last month, is to be debated in the Senate on Friday before becoming law.

The legislation, if it becomes law, will give the prime minister power, in consultation with the National Security Council, to declare an area a zone of special operations to tackle increased volatility in a community. However, the zone can only be established after the police commissioner and the chief of defence staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the prime minister.

More than 697 persons have been murdered across Jamaica up to June 24, up from 584 for the same period last year.

On Monday evening, 32-year-old Joseph Kelly, 20-year-old Nicolas Lindsay and 17-year-old Daniquea Graham were killed in an attack on Hill Avenue, Olympic Gardens. Graham's 11-month-old baby was left battling for life after also being shot.

On the same evening, over in Trench Town, 45-year-old Garth Pryce, who hails from Rose Town, was shot dead by gunmen. And in Payne Land, Chevron Green, 21, of Tavares Gardens was also murdered, bringing the day's murder figure to five.




Terrified over the increase in killings, Oneil McLeod, stepfather of Kelly, said that more needs to be done to stop the runaway murder rate and that a zone of special operations could be the answer.

"For me, that would be plain and simple common sense; you don't wait until the cut become a sore to dress it. Once the violence starts, you deal with it and not wait until it's blown out of proportion. We are at that point right now," he said.

There is a similar cry in Payne Land, located in the South West St Andrew constituency, where another of Monday's murders took place.

"Is right ya so I lost my daughter some years ago," said one resident, who gave her name only as Lisa. "She get shot in her neck. Right now, a leave me really want to leave. Too much crime deh a dem place yah."

She stated that drastic measures are needed to curb crime, especially since most crimes have a direct relationship with the gun, adding that the zone of special operations will at least give some peace of mind to beleaguered residents.

Potential areas for special zones of operations include murder hotspots such as Montego Bay, Central Kingston and certain communities in Hanover, which have seen a flare-up of gun violence over recent months.