Thu | Oct 29, 2020

We need SOEs, say Chang, Anderson

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:17 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says that the heads of the security forces “see the need” for the declaration of a state of public emergency (SOE) to quell the spike in murders in the last few weeks.

However, government action, seemingly, has been hamstrung by last month’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court that the detention of five men under the states of public emergency (SOEs) was unconstitutional.

Government lawyers have signalled that the judgment should be sent to the Court of Appeal to be examined.

“We do need the additional tool,” Chang said, adding that the SOEs immediately give to the security team almost twice the strength of the force.

Murders hit the 1,000 mark this week, a 1.9 per cent decline over the similar period last year.

Speaking at a digital press conference yesterday, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson also shared the view that the SOE was the tool that suppresses murder and shootings quickly in the areas where it is applied.

“So it is important that we get it. We can see every time since we’ve implemented it and it has been removed, we start to see the spike again,” he said.

“We do need it, but by no means we are going to roll over and play dead just because it’s not there,” Anderson said.

MURDER RATE DOWN

Anderson said that with the states of emergency in place a few weeks ago, the country’s murder rate was down 5.2 per cent when compared with the similar period for 2019.

“We have pretty much lost about four per cent over the last five weeks, which is of great concern to us and the public,” he told journalists.

At the same time, the commissioner said that more than 50 persons who were released by the police when the SOEs were lifted in August have come up on the police’s radar.

According to Anderson, of the 140 persons released by the police, 57 of them have been involved in criminal activities.

He reported that five have been killed, four in confrontation with other gangsters and one in a fatal shooting by the police. Another three were shot and injured in gang warfare. The police commissioner said that 16 of the persons released are suspected of murder, including two double homicides.

“We have nine of them who are shooting suspects of which four of them have been rearrested. We have five of them who have been involved in robberies, and 19 of them have come to our attention based on intelligence and what we know about their influence in violence in the communities they are from.”

He said that the police would be moving to take these alleged wrongdoers into custody.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com