Fri | Mar 22, 2019

Sector group wants urgent update on JamaicaEye cameras

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2019 | 12:24 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Winston Lawson, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), wants a swift update on plans to install some 300 new security cameras in St James under the JamaicaEye initiative.

The call comes against the background of a resurgence in violent crimes in the parish following the discontinuation of the state of public emergency.

“It’s not something we have discussed at the chamber, but we would certainly welcome an update,” said Lawson, who has expressed his disgust at the high levels of lawlessness in the parish. “With the challenge of getting witnesses to come forward, this system (the JamaicaEye) will be an important tool in getting cases made against offenders” he said.

In a brazen daylight robbery in Montego Bay on Sunday, heavily armed gunmen attacked a courier vehicle and stole an undetermined sum of money. The courier vehicle driver and a security guard were shot and killed in the attack.

Immediately following that incident, the MBCCI and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association issued a joint release calling for policies to be implemented to address the rising crime in St James.

Lawson said that there has been no update on the proposed JamaicaEye system since the project’s coordinator, Emil Holgate, held a meeting with the MBCCI last September, where it was announced that 300 new cameras were to be installed in St James by the end of December 2018. Some 70 cameras are currently in place.

“The meeting spoke to the intended course of action to increase the number of cameras, but since that meeting, we haven’t had any formal update from JamaicaEye,” said Lawson, ”We still continue to support and endorse that focus.”

According to Lawson, while people are sometimes reluctant to give evidence in court out of fear that they might become the targets of those implicated, with the JamaicaEye, there would be no such concerns.

“There’s no individual to attack or to have reprisals against when the testimony is coming from a video feed, so JamaicaEye is something we welcome and encourage, not just for our members, but the business community also,” said Lawson.

JamaicaEye was launched on March 14, last year as part of an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to assist the authorities in responding to disasters, criminal acts or accidents.

Earlier this month, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said the system should be fully rolled out islandwide by September.