Fri | Apr 19, 2019

St James hits 100 murders despite SOE and ZOSO

Published:Friday | December 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater and Hopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writers
The security forces on the ground during early stages of the state of public emergency in St James.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Despite enhanced security measures, including the imposition of a state of public emergency (SOE), to curb St James' 2018 crime rate, the parish hit the 100 mark yesterday with yet another murder in the volatile Cambridge community.

On Wednesday, the tally had moved to 99 following three murders in three days.

A senior police personnel, who asked not to be named, said that while this year's figure is significantly lower than last year's record 335 murders, the numbers are still unacceptable, especially against the background of the SOE in the parish and the ongoing zone of special operations (ZOSO) in Mt Salem.

"We have put all the available resources on the road in the hope of having a peaceful Christmas, but we still had three murders over the past three days," the senior lawman told The Gleaner.

"It seems quite clear that we need more than crime-fighting strategies to quell this ongoing violence. We also need a change of heart from those who are committing these acts."

He added, "If we are still closing in on 100 murders despite all the resources the State has put behind this effort to stop the lawlessness, I am convinced we are fighting a losing battle unless we find a way to change the hearts of these cruel killers."

 

VICTIM AN UNIDENTIFIED MALE

 

At the start of the Christmas season, Senior Superintendent of Police Anthony Morris, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's commanding officer in charge of the state of public emergency in St James, said he was hell-bent on giving the parish a safe Christmas, as well as keeping murders for 2018 below the 100 mark.

"We have scaled down all of our police departments and deployed these officers throughout the inner city and across the parish," Morris had said.

"Residents will now see a much larger contingent of police officers, who have been deployed throughout every major street in Montego Bay."

Victim number 100 is an unidentified male, whose bullet-riddled body was found in the Seven Rivers Farm section of Cambridge with wounds to his mouth and one eye. The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, had a cast on one hand.

Had the St James police managed to keep the murder count below 100 for this year, it would have been the first that such a feat would have been achieved since 2006, when the parish exploded in serious gang violence with the emergence of gangs such as the notorious Stone Crushers.