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Gleaner Editors' Forum | State of public emergency gives detectives more room to investigate

Published:Sunday | September 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Branch, McArthur Sutherland
Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of planning and research, Kevin Blake

The ongoing states of public emergency in St James and the St Catherine North Police Division have provided detectives with some respite to focus on existing murder investigations, the Police High Command has suggested.

"We were going at a particular rate that had the detectives being pulled to the next murder and the next one, and it really didn't give us much time to concentrate on the existing murders," stated McArthur Sutherland, head of the police Criminal Investigation Branch and acting assistant commissioner.

Sutherland was among members of the police top brass who flanked Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday at the media house's North Street, Kingston, office.

He noted that 49 murders had taken place during the three months prior to the state of emergency in St Catherine North, but that figure fell to 26 in the following five months after the emergency powers were implemented.

The state of emergency in the division, which took effect on March 18 for an initial 14 days, has been extended multiple times and will now remain in effect until at least October 2.

"We were able to arrest 41 persons for major crimes and 284 persons for minor crimes over there (St Catherine North)," disclosed Sutherland.




"Of the 41 major crimes arrests, 20 were for murders. So, it (state of emergency) gives us an opportunity to be more focused on case reviews, case management and, ultimately, court-ready files to push into the courts."

Assistant commissioner in charge of planning and research, Kevin Blake, agreed with Sutherland, arguing that a major aim of the state of public emergency is to reduce murders to a more manageable level.

"Because then the investigators can be more assiduous at what they do and spend more time on each case and get better-quality cases," he contended.

Police statistics between January 1 and August 25 this year show that 17 fewer killings have taken place in St Catherine North when compared to the same period last year. This represents a 19 per cent decline in murder within the division.

Meanwhile, in St James where a state of public emergency has been in effect since January 18, statistics also show that 135 fewer murders have been committed when compared to the corresponding period last year. This equates to a significant 68 per cent decline in homicides.

An extension of the security clampdown for St James has also been approved until November 1. However, Anderson has expressed his desire for it to continue until early next year.