Cleric wants state of emergency in Westmoreland
Pastor Glen Samuels, president of the West Jamaica Conference (WJC) of Seventh-day Adventists, wants the ongoing state of public emergency in St James to be extended to the neighbouring parish of Westmoreland.
According to the pastor, who was commenting on the effectiveness of the state of emergency in St James, the high level of crime and violence in Westmoreland is having a negative impact on several church outreach programmes.
"I had a meeting with the WJC's pastors, and from discussions with the pastoral teams in Westmoreland, we understand there is still significant trouble there. The security forces need to fast-track the state of emergency into Westmoreland, especially in areas like Seaton Crescent and Russia," said Samuels.
"I don't know what the security forces' plans are for those places in Westmoreland, but they have significant challenges, including murders, which are still taking place. Here in Montego Bay, the state of emergency is showing positive signs in reducing the runaway violence that once existed," Samuels added.
Of Jamaica's total tally of 1,616 murders last year, Westmoreland had 147 incidents, 32 more than what was recorded in the parish during 2016.
Recently, the Reverend Hartley Perrin, custos of Westmoreland, indicated that if a zone of special operations should be announced to tackle crime in the parish, the local justices of the peace would be willing to serve during that exercise.
In the meantime, Samuels noted that the WJC is focusing on implementing an outreach programme geared at youth mentorship in Westmoreland.
"We are pushing a mentorship programme, which we launched last year, to mentor 7,000 youths from the streets of Jamaica. We have almost 90,000 members in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and St Elizabeth, and most of the populations in these parishes range from ages 15 to 32," said Samuels.