Thu | Jun 4, 2020

Police swarm Bull Bay to quell violence

Published:Friday | February 1, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Defence Force soldiers take up positions in Bull Bay yesterday as the security forces sought to stamp out violence that has rattled the eastern St Andrew community.

Police from as far as Spanish Town converged on the warring community of Bull Bay in St Andrew, detaining 18 persons in a bid to restore order to the area, which has been under the gun for months.

But even as cops late yesterday speculated that wanted men were among those detained, others in the area questioned the fruitfulness of the operation, which saw the deployment of at least a dozen military armoured vehicles, police service jeeps, and unmarked units.

“Bull Bay is one of the hardest areas to police. Trust me. This is pure bush. If something even happen and we get a call, by the time we reach here, the man dem pack up and gone long time,” said one policeman, who spent much of his afternoon standing at post in Eleven Miles, near the main thoroughfare in the area.

“The only way police can police this area is to do it on foot, and even if police do that, we would have to live and sleep in the area every day. That is the only way you know the place,” said another policeman, who was from another division in a nearby parish.

Yesterday’s operation was geared at nabbing gangsters responsible for at least five deaths since the start of the year and several others in the latter months last year. Yesterday, however, cops speculated that gunmen could be hiding in nearby hills.

Those who dared to make the trek, however, endured scorching sunshine and slippery, stony hillsides, marked by miles of bushes with no houses in sight. Some policemen admitted that they were unfamiliar with the area and expressed fear for their lives.

“We have guns, and we are not going up there,” said the driver of one service vehicle, astonished that the Gleaner news team made the trek to Top Jack Vale district, which borders Eleven Miles and the St Thomas Police Division, unaccompanied.

It wasn’t clear yesterday afternoon whether any of the men detained were indeed wanted for crimes in Bull Bay, but residents welcomed the cops’ strong presence in the sprawling eastern St Andrew community.

“To tell yuh the truth, this should a do from long time. The police dem take too long to do this,” said a man among a group of residents at a bar in Ten Miles. “The politician dem know what had been going on all of last year, and is now when things get real bad, them come.”