Police puzzled by the reasons people kill
While other crimes are trending down in St James, murders continue to be the proverbial thorn in the side of Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the parish's commanding officer, who is often left puzzled by some of the reasons people kill.
The tough-taking McGregor, who clearly has a passion for crime-fighting, got emotional recently while speaking to reporters at a crime scene, where three persons were shot and killed on account of an incident in which water was splashed on a woman's cell phone.
"This is too much ... . All you have seen here today is as a result of somebody splashing water on a woman's telephone and other persons deciding to settle the matter with guns," McGregor said at the time. "Two of those killed were not involved. This is the kind of senseless killing that makes St James so difficult to police."
Speaking at a Gleaner mini-forum recently, McGregor continued to lash out against the culture in St James where people regularly settle simple disputes by killing each other, a feature that resulted in a record 212 murders in the parish last year.
"You will remember that man that was killed in Mango Walk. It was out of a dispute in the Kentucky (KFC) drive-through, and they followed him and killed him there," said McGregor in reference to a recent killing in Montego Bay. "Two citizens playing [a board game] and there is a dispute, and one is killed. Two youngsters arguing over if Ronaldo is better than Messi, and one is stabbed in his heart to death."
In a bid to promote conflict resolution over violence, the St James police are pursuing community initiatives to have influential community leaders playing an active role in settling disputes.
"We are going at the domestic disputes where we are getting most of our murders from. We are not getting them from gang-related incidents as we were last year. We are going closer to the communities so that we can intercede or intercept these domestic disputes before they result in murders," said McGregor. "We have to impress upon these communities to settle their disputes differently."
STILL EYEING REDUCTION
Despite the parish recording more than 50 murders so far this year, McGregor is still convinced that there will be a significant reduction over last year. There are five active gangs in the parish (Sparta, Rebel, Buss Head, Alliance and Unknown Killers), a significant reduction from the 33 active gangs of recent years. And with programmes in the schools to steer youngsters away from gangs, McGregor is cautiously optimistic of a better future.
"We are finding that the gangs are infiltrating the schools ... so you are having Little Sparta, Little Rebel, and Little Buss Head ... so we are working to stamp that out through programmes we have in the schools," said McGregor. "We have teams working with the schools to change this mindset among the youngsters."