No glory for GANGSTERS - Police use anti-gang legislation to arrest and charge almost 170 suspects
The fatal shooting of 14-year-old Jazianne Cole and the injuring of two other person in the Kingston Western Police Division last week, has again put the spotlight on the operation of gangsters in the several inner-city communities that are in the area.
But the police say despite the havoc being caused by these gangster the division, which covers several tough inner-city communities including, Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Wilton Gardens (Rema), Trench Town and Hanna Town, has accounted for the most of the persons charged under the anti-gang legislation since it was passed.
According to the police they have already made a dent in the criminal gangs whose members continue to leave a trail of blood in the communities.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, “42 of the 167 persons now before the courts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Bill,” popularly called the anti-gang law, are from the division, which has been home to some of Jamaica’s most notorious gangsters over the years.
"Kingston Western heads the list with 42 persons arrested from seven cases before the courts. Then you have Kingston Central with 15 persons charged from three cases, and St Andrew North with 14 persons charged from four cases," Hinds told The Sunday Gleaner.
These three police divisions are followed by St James with 13 persons charged from nine cases, Kingston Eastern with 10 persons charged in four cases, and St Andrew Central Division with eight persons charged.
The Westmoreland and St Andrew South police divisions complete the list of hot spots with eight persons charged in two cases, and six persons charged from four cases.
"We see a lot of persons being charged from the Kingston Western division because of the number of gangs and the number of persons who are involved in the criminal networks there," said Hinds. He noted that the police have had much success in putting away some members of the 'Scare Dem' gang that has been operating out of West Kingston.
Investigators say the Scare Dem gang is a breakaway faction of the Presidential Click or Shower Possee, which was led by convicted strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
The police say members of the Scare Dem gang were at loggerheads with other gangs in the area. The alleged leader of the Scare Dem gang, Omar Spaulding, is now in police custody having been arrested along with 30 other alleged gang members earlier this year.
While those charged are before the courts, Hinds is not expecting any prosecution at this time due to the slow pace of the judicial system.
"What we are really pushing for is for some of the cases to go through the courts so at least precedence can be set by utilising the law," said Hinds.
"Every new legislation has its nuances. We just want to ensure that we do have matters that go through the courts," added Hinds.
More than 20 persons have been murdered in the Kingston Western Police Division recently, prompting head of the division, Senior Superintendent Cornwall 'Bigga' Ford to heighten foot and mobile patrols presence in the area.
In the adjoining Kingston Central Police Division, Superintendent Michael Scott, whose investigators have reported some 30 homicides since the start of the year, told The Sunday Gleaner that the anti-gang legislation is helping to address some of the problems one the ground.
"It is a success to a large extent in that some of the persons arrested would be have been placed in custody and taken off the streets. It helps with that" said Scott.
"And it also allows us to do some investigations around some other persons, but I don't think that it (the courts) is moving as fast as we would like it to move."
In the meantime, Superintendent Jacqueline Green, commander of the St Andrew North Police division, where at least 26 persons have been killed since the start of the year, said the legislation has been a catalyst to investigations in her police area.
"As it relates to our investigations; it definitely helps. Once we have a matter dealing with and we find that there is a link with other groups we are able to use it to investigate other members. Usually the information leads you to some key players," offered Green.
In St James, where the lottery scam is rife, Operations Officer, Superintendent Carol Mackenzie, told The Sunday Gleaner that the anti-gang legislation plugs the gaps present within the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act 2013.
"The anti-gang law is good because we get another piece of legislation with which to fight crime. We can’t fight them (gangsters) with the lottery scam legislation alone," said Mackenzie.
St James has recorded more than 100 murders since the start of the year.