PSOJ: Good move, but Clarendon needs SOE, too
While giving thumbs up to the state of public emergency (SOE) declared yesterday in the St Andrew South Police Division, Howard Mitchell, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, believes that the crime-fighting measure is needed in other places across the island, including Clarendon.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced that the SOE had gone into effect and initially will run for 14 days. The declaration was made on the basis that from January 1 to June 29, murders in the division stood at 94, which is a 19 per cent increase over the corresponding period in 2018. More than 25 gangs are said to be causing mayhem within the division.
Over the stated period, the murder figure for Clarendon stood at 70, a 7.9 per cent decrease when compared to last year.
What puzzles Mitchell most is the Government’s formula when declaring SOEs.
“No doubt St Andrew South needs a state of emergency, but one could argue that so does Clarendon. Business people will always feel safe whenever the security forces are mobilised. Obviously, that division has reached some sort of statistical threshold in terms of murders that would cause security advisers to request a state of public emergency.
“Not knowing what that threshold is, I can only assume that Clarendon hasn’t reached it. I have to ask if apart from the high number of murders, if there are any other criteria for declaring a state of emergency, like depravity, magnitude of violence, brazenness of activity and the coordinated nature of criminal activity. Clarendon seems not to have met those parameters.”
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips also welcomed the SOE, and like Mitchell, he pointed to Clarendon as being in need of urgent attention. He, however, called on the Government to ensure that human rights are observed.
distraction from corruption
“We are very concerned that even while there is a South St Andrew state of emergency, Clarendon is being gripped with criminality,” Phillips said. “The People’s National Party is still waiting to have a national stakeholders meeting. That has not happened yet.”
Added Phillips: “We are hoping that the state of emergency is not being imposed to detract from the very serious and high levels of corruption affecting the Caribbean Maritime University and the Ministry of Education.”
Yesterday, The Gleaner visited a number of communities under the SOE, including New Haven, Riverton and Waterhouse.
At the Washington Boulevard entrance to the community of New Haven, soldiers had set up a security checkpoint to monitor, stop and search vehicles.
One resident told The Gleaner that the level of killing taking place in the division had warranted an SOE.
“You nuh see how much people a dead? It necessary to what a gwaan with the killing,” he said.
Commending the soldiers for a good job although just a few hours into the initiative, one woman said she was happy for its implementation.
“Them a work good! There is no disrespect and everything is taking place with order,” she said.
The Boundaries of the SOE:
East- Starting at the foot of Red Hills at the intersection of Perkins Boulevard, Molynes Road and Red Hills Road, extending in a south-south easterly direction along Molynes Road, Seaward Drive, Mimosa Road, Aloe Ave, Bay Farm Road, Newark Avenue, Elm Crescent, Keesing Avenue, Hagley Park Road, Omara Road, and Chisolm Avenue to the point of intersection with Maxfield Avenue.
WEST- Continuing in a north-westerly direction from the Portmore Causeway Bridge along the Fresh River, the shared parish border of St Andrew and St Catherine west of Riverton, and extending to the vicinity of the western most end of the Belvedere to Ferry secondary road.
Extending in an easterly direction along the Belvedere to Ferry road to the foot of Red Hills at the intersection of Perkins Boulevard, Molynes Road and Red Hills Road, the start po
Extending in a south-westerly direction from the intersection of Chisolm Avenue and Maxfield Avenue, along Maxfield Avenue onto East Avenue to the coastline in the vicinity of Petrojam and extending along the said coastline in the vicinity of the Kingston Container Terminal to the Portmore Causeway Bridge.