St Andrew South leads with 71 murders - But strategies working, says commanding officer
While the state of public emergency has acted as a suppressant to the out-of-control gun violence in St James, the neighbouring western parish of Westmoreland has taken up the mantle of Jamaica's most violent police division. But the St Andrew South division remains the most deadly, with 71 reported cases of homicides so far this year.
Sixty-nine murders were committed in the St Andrew South division during the period January 1 to April 30, but only two since April to May 26, pointing to a slowing down of the murder rate, according to the latest Jamaica Constabulary Force crime statistics.
"We recognise the challenges in this division but are committed to finding the necessary methods to include community-based policing efforts to stem violence of all kinds," Superintendent Gary Francis told The Gleaner yesterday.
St Andrew South was averaging more than one homicide per day from January 1 to April 30, but only two such killings occurred during the past 30 days (April 30 to May 26), a decline that is not lost on the commanding officer.
"A number of things have changed in recent times such as ramping up of our community-based policing efforts and other operational activities, and these have limited the cause for violence here," Francis reported.
Police data also show an increase in cases of shootings to 62 - an upward movement of eight over the corresponding period last year of 54 in the that division. Robbery has increased 63.9 per cent over the same period last year - 59 so far over the 36 for the corresponding period last year.
"In the span of a month, we have managed to bring the violence under reasonable control. We have had only two murders in the last 30 days, and that is significant, taking into account that the division had 69 in the period January to April," noted Francis.
During that time, seven illegal firearms were seized and the arrests of several crime producers executed as the police continued to build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones in dealing with the situation, Francis said.
Homicides in select divisions, January 1 to May 26, 2018
- St James - 74 per cent decline in homicides, 39 during the period January 1 to May 30, when compared to the 113 over the same period last year.
- Westmoreland - six more homicides, 63, than the 57 recorded during the same period in 2017.
- St Catherine North - five more homicides (58) over the same period last year.