Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Chang applying strategies to secure crime-fighting gains

Published:Friday | June 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter

Attributing a reduction in the country's homicide rate mainly to states of emergency and the zones of special operations (ZOSOs) implemented across the island, Security Minister Dr Horace Chang yesterday said that his ministry was looking at long-term strategies to ensure that the gains were not eroded.

Speaking at a Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, Chang pointed to approximately 10 per cent decrease in the number of homicides and an overall decrease of 25 per cent in all major crimes between January and June 19 this year.

St James, which has a ZOSO in Mount Salem, has recorded a 63.2-per cent reduction in murders, he noted.

"There have been significant improvements in terms of both public order and homicide rates in the areas, but the activities around the perimeter of the ZOSOs are sometimes cause for concern," Chang told reporters attending the luncheon as he described a challenging three months as security minister.

"The long-term plans have to be put in place, and they will take a little while. We have to disrupt the major criminal organisations," Chang stated.

"And we have to restructure the police force. We have to invest in the force in terms of training," he continued, explaining that there was also need for more senior posts within the constabulary.

"Three per cent gazetted police officers in a police force of 10,000 is grossly inadequate, and that leads to lack of supervision and accountability," said Chang. "If we move to nine per cent, we immediately open up 600 supervisory posts. It transforms the whole image of the force and it motivates young officers to stay in the force."

Other long-term crime-fighting strategies, Chang said, include proposed changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act, the introduction of legislation to enable the use of video evidence, and addressing the social needs of impoverished, violence-prone communities.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com