Tue | Nov 12, 2019

Police, army to man streets for Christmas

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:46 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Police chief Antony Anderson has defended the success of the states of emergency.
Police chief Antony Anderson has defended the success of the states of emergency.

The security forces will, over the next eight weeks, beef up their presence on the streets in a bid to maintain law and order during the Yuletide season, the Government has said.

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang sought to assure both shoppers and merchants that the military and the police would sweep the streets and implement other measures to allay anxiety about crime.

“This is, of course, because there tends to be a surge in robberies and other types of acquisitive crimes as well as elevated public disorder in and around our commercial and public districts,” he said during a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

“The Government firmly believes that law-abiding Jamaicans must be able to conduct their business in a safe and secure environment without fear of criminal activity. This becomes even more pronounced at this time of the year when there are increased commercial, social and family-oriented activities taking place,” Chang added.

The security minister said that over the last 24 months, the Government had taken strong steps to curb violent crime primarily through zones of special operations and states of emergency (SOEs). While shootings have fallen marginally year-on-year, homicides have remained virtually the same, with only one fewer person killed up to October 26 compared with the corresponding period last year.

But Police Commissioner Antony Anderson defended the SOEs yesterday, adding that divisional commanders have already been briefed about their expectations over the Christmas holidays and into the New Year.

SOE MANDATES

“I met with my divisional commanders on Monday and gave them a mandate around their town centres, but also a mandate around gangs, guns, and criminal leaders like the dons. They are to focus on that over the next two months, and to the extent that they have done, I have started to see results,” said the major general.

Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, said his troops would provide strong cover to the police in security operations.

“A joint task force has been established to deliver this support to the police in a number of hotspots and police divisions across the island. The joint task force is essentially an amalgamation of, and reorganisation of, units and resources of the force. The goal here is to maintain a highly mobile and visible presence in these areas in order to deter criminal activity,” Meade said.

“I want to reassure those individuals that both the JDF and the JCF will operate with the utmost respect for the basic human and citizen rights of all persons within the communities.”

Seven police divisions, spanning six parishes, are currently under a state of emergency.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com