State of emergency silences MoBay guns
With the ongoing state of public emergency (SOE) steadily taking root in St James, violent crime is witnessing a drastic reduction. The parish - which was the nation's runaway murder capital last year, with a record 335 murders - is now seeing a welcome reduction by 59 murders over the comparative period last year.
In giving an update on what has transpired since Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared the SOE in St James on January 18, a release from the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) stated that the 12 murders recorded is less than half of last year's figure.
"While we are not yet at a stage where we can celebrate, I believe we are doing reasonably well," a senior police source told The Gleaner yesterday. "We just need residents to keep providing the information we need to go after the illegal guns and the gangsters who have been using them."
According to Inspector Diane Bartley, who heads the CCU, since the start of the SOE, some 782 persons have been detained and processed in operations carried out by the security forces across the parish.
Of the persons detained and processed, 61 have been arrested and charged with various offences to include murder and illegal possession of firearms. Among the 11 persons charged for murder are some top-tier members of the Flanker-based Sparta Gang and the Canterbury-based Nation Crocs.
... Tourism stakeholder welcomes change
In reacting to the reduction in violence in St James since the establishment of a state of emergency, businessman Godfrey Dyer, the chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), says he is quite pleased with what has been unfolding and he is looking forward to even more success.
"It makes me feel very good ... albeit it still leaves me wondering why it was not introduced before," said Dyer, who is a former policeman.
"I am quite pleased with the success, and I am looking forward to even more success as the operations continue."
In addition to the 61 persons arrested and charged, some 523 offensive weapons, inclusive of 18 firearms and some 351 rounds of ammunition, have been seized. One person has been charged for possession of an illegal firearm and another person for shooting with intent.
With regard to the search for wanted men and illegal guns, 264 houses have been searched and 299 spot checks carried out. One person was charged for harbouring a fugitive, four for lottery scamming, two for immigration violations, and another two for breaching the curfew order.
In relation to breaches of the Road Traffic Act, some 5,897 tickets have been issued to motorists who were deemed to have committed traffic offences.
While some business interests in the parish continue to complain about the impact the SOE restrictions are having on their operations, forcing earlier closing hours, other residents are expressing delight that social ills such as skin bleaching and the wanton smoking of ganja in public spaces is no longer an issue.
"I couldn't tell when last mi se a 'bleachers'. Everybody a wear dem original colour again," a vendor told The Gleaner yesterday. "Another thing is dat yuh don't have dis whole heap a man a walk pass and puff ganja inna yu face again."