St James crime task force needed, says Phillips
As the security forces continue to struggle to deal with murders in St James, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has called for the creation of a special task force to focus on the parish, which has recorded more than 250 homicides so far this year.
According to Phillips, that new team should take a holistic approach to crime, by identifying, building evidence, apprehending, and securing convictions of leading purveyors of violent criminality.
"Already, year-to-date, there have been more murders than there were in the entire 2016, and the year is not yet finished. It is clear that despite the effects of the zone of special operations (ZOSO), violent crime continues unabated in those sections of the parish not included in the zone," said Phillips following a meeting with major players in the St James business community last Saturday.
"The current upsurge of crime and violence is untenable. There is a growing level of fear which seems to be pervading the entire community, and it is certainly not to be dismissed as being just conflict among gang members," added Phillips, as he warned that the situation threatens the entire economic foundation of Montego Bay.
"I am told by stakeholders that land values are being affected, ordinary commercial transactions and investment activities are being retarded, and, most of all, families are mourning. They are living in fear because of this wave of violence that is around now."
He argued that there was also an urgent need to address the breakdown in public order.