Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Marked for death - Cops moving targeted residents from Clarendon communities; force stretched amid surging crime, high police resignations

Published:Tuesday | August 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Head of the Clarendon Police Division, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell.

Clarendon has recorded more than 100 murders since the start of the year - five children among its latest victims - but its divisional commander said the number would be much higher if the police had not strategically removed persons who they say were marked for death.

"It is not a joke the amount of financing and the amount of instructions to commit criminal acts," said head of the Clarendon Police Division, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell, during an interview with Power106-Gleaner yesterday.

Six-year-old Timothy Bassaragh was killed last Thursday morning when gunmen opened fire on his home in the Farm community as he and his family slept.

"Since this year, we have moved several persons out of that [Farm] community who were marked for death, and I can also tell you that if we were not policing in a special way, we would have recorded more than 200 dead bodies."

Cameron-Powell added, "For us to reach the stage of 101, it would be worse if we were not treating some sections of the parish in a special way," arguing that the authorities will need to find better ways to prevent contraband, like cellular phones, from entering prisons, as the items are being used to order criminal activities outside the lock-ups.

 

HIGH POLICE RESIGNATIONS

 

With hundreds of suspected illegal firearms, and wide-open land spaces in which both home-grown and imported criminals run amok, the central parish is fast becoming a haven of death, and the police say their strength is dwindling because of increased resignations, among other specific challenges.

"The resignation is very high. Clarendon has 618 police officers, but we don't have that amount to work because of the fact that we have persons on suspension. We have to look on vacation, and we have to look on departmental leave," said Cameron-Powell.

"On a day shift, we will put out 180 to 190, and on a night shift we have like 100 or 120. We still continue to lose members by resignation, and it is happening right across the island."

 

INTERNATIONAL CRIME NETWORKS

 

According to the superintendent, the criminals are being funded by international crime networks that are ordering the deaths of even their own relatives locally. They are not afraid to outsource, importing thugs from outside the parish when police have other gangsters on lockdown.

"We are trying our very best. The parish itself has almost 300,000 persons, but it's not the entire parish that is under problems," noted Cameron-Powell, listing the communities of Farm and Bucknor as the major hotspots.

She continued, "When you are inside the community, it would be very hard for you to understand that this type of situation is happening there. During the day, it is just an ordinary place, but behind the community is a vast piece of land where the criminals have taken control of over time, and that is where they carry out their acts."

Cameron-Powell added, "We have realised that there are criminals from Spanish Town, west Kingston, and St James. We have picked up persons from those divisions and during interviews we realise that they are not from Clarendon."

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com