Wed | May 22, 2019

Commish defends gun-recovery efforts

Published:Thursday | April 18, 2019 | 12:33 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang (left) speaks with Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson at the post-sectoral press conference at Jamaica House yesterday.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang (left) speaks with Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson at the post-sectoral press conference at Jamaica House yesterday.

With the number of recorded gun and ammunition seizures during the states of emergency (SOEs) falling below those of the previous years when no such enhanced security measures was imposed, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson has rejected assertions that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is not doing enough to recover illegal firearms.

“When you have a state of emergency, it’s largely an operation that reduces violence, and it does it in a number of ways. One of the consequences of states of emergency is that we find a lot of guns buried, so people are not walking around with the guns. Also, a number of people leave, and number of people are held who are involved in the business of violence,” Anderson said, citing that lack of information has thwarted their efforts to recover illegal firearms.

In 2018, the police seized 720 guns and 11,227 rounds of ammunition compared to the 862 guns and 22,158 rounds of ammunition seized in 2017, according to official police statistics.

The police commissioner, however, said that the JCF’s gun- recovery efforts were bearing fruit.

“If you notice, as the SOEs progressed, we started to find caches because we’d get information and we’d start going for that. What’s happening now is we are recovering guns nearly daily in St James because of the security forces running into the guys carrying their guns,” he said.

“That is why the murders have gone up because a number of the murders are targets of opportunity that because they have their guns on them, they can go and kill somebody and run off. With the state of emergency, that doesn’t happen in that way, and you see less guns.”

SOEs were declared in St James on January 18, 2017, in St Catherine North on March 18, 2018, and in parts of the Corporate Area on September 23, 2018. They all came to an end in January this year.