Peaceful Portland- Residents put crime far down on their list of concerns
Crime may be the major nightmare for residents of several communities across the island, but for residents of Portland, that is far down on their list of major problems.
Roads and infrastructure, unemployment, water, lack of educational opportunities, and electricity, all provide more headache for the residents of one of the most peaceful parishes in Jamaica, and the police are vowing to keep it that way.
"We will not be complacent," declared head of the Portland police, Superintendent Dwayne Wellington, last Thursday.
"This is arguably the safest parish islandwide, and with the cooperation of residents and other stakeholders, it will remain so for a long time to come. The partnership between the police, residents, and stakeholders is most valuable. This augurs well for the future, and clearly, the confidence that community residents have in the police is bearing results," added Wellington.
Police data show that 141 serious and major crimes were reported in the parish in 2016. This included 15 murders, of which 90, or 64 per cent, were cleared up. Last year, the parish saw serious and major crimes decrease to 100, with the number of murders down to eight, representing a more than 50 per cent decline.
For other major crimes, eight cases of rape were reported in Portland last year, down from 19 in 2016, while one case of shooting was recorded last year, down from seven the previous year.
Up to February 10 this year, when the latest official numbers were released, the parish recorded just one murder, one reported case of rape and no shootings.
This is good news for Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson, who told The Sunday Gleaner that the effort by the police to stem crime in the parish is commendable, as they are achieving success with limited resources, including not enough vehicles.
"The parish is not short of crime-fighters and they are committed to their jobs," said Thompson.
"The support from residents and the business community towards the police is overwhelming," added Thompson.
He said the municipal council is working to address the other major concerns of the residents.
"As it relates to unemploy-ment, we at the Portland Municipal Corporation continue to provide employment to dozens of needy residents. During the summer, a number of students benefited from work experience, where they received a stipend.
"Persons have received work at a construction site at the police station that is being built along William Street, while others have gained employment on the worksite of the ongoing water drainage and sewerage project. Additionally, dozens are working along the main thoroughfare leading from St Margaret's Bay to Port Antonio in an ongoing beautification project and the cutting of lawns," said Thompson.