Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Probing Portland | Peaceful Portland - Residents cite vigilance and dispute resolution

Published:Wednesday | May 2, 2018 | 12:03 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Charles Bell (left) is assisted by Randy Grey in loading these gas drums on his bicycle in Manchioneal, Portland yesterday.
A sign welcoming visitors to Portland.
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With 28 murders in the last 28 months, the eastern Jamaica parish of Portland remains the nation's least murderous parish, a stark contrast to the western parish of St James which has recorded more than 630 homicides for the same period.

For long-time residents of Portland, the main secret to the peace they enjoy is the vigilance and dispute-resolution efforts that they employ - a practice they are recommending to residents of the island's crime riddled communities.

"From we see an outsider come in the place we affi question him. Who him? Where him come from? Who him connected to? And if it nah add up then we involve the police," declared 'Brown Man', a long time resident of Clear Spring in East Portland.

"We have to find out all of this, because you have outside persons who a look place fi hide and sooner or later them ago start do all type a wrongs," added Brown Man.

He was among a group of residents relaxing at a shop and bar in Clear Spring when The Gleaner news team visited Monday night.

Portland has recorded five murders since the start of the year, but none in Clear Spring and the residents say, as part of their determination to keep it that way, they are prepared to work with the authorities.

"All a wi help the police around here. The peace thing start with wi. A wi deh here every day and a see who come round the place. So from we see a strange face, we have to interrogate. There's no two ways about it," declared Brown Man.

He said conflicts involving residents of Clear Spring do not usually escalate to acts of violence.

"From time to time, man and man will catch up in an argument and cutting tool draw ,yes, but we always intervene and squash it without even the help of the police."

Fellow resident, 'Short Boss' agreed as he told our news team that he was subjected to questioning when he first moved into Cold Spring.

"A the right approach and me respect people a look out for the peace in the community because outside elements can disrupt that peace. Right now, the only threat we have down here so is bad roads.

Even though business slow you can come have a drink and chill at the bar anytime, no fear and that a stem from we a keep a watchful eye on the place," said Short Boss.

Another Portlander, Joe, argued that for other parishes to replicate the peace which Portland has had for quite some time, more Jamaicans would have to become active peacekeepers and community watchers.

"Them in a uniform (police and soldiers) and the Government alone cannot keep peace across the country," said Joe.

"Peace a everybody thing. That mean it up to you and me fi look out and see who a migrate in the place, who and who have little dispute and what we can do as people who live here to ensure that murder and them serious crime deh stay far and wide," declared Joe.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com