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Private interests pledge resources to assist Portland police combat upsurge in crime

Published:Sunday | November 13, 2016 | 11:47 AMGareth Davis
A section of the town of Port Antonio, Portland.

Faced with a sharp increase in gun-related crimes, including a double-digit increase in murders for the first time, millions have been pledged by private interests to assist the police in Portland.

The private sector, individuals, and a political representative have pledged money to assist with the purchase of two pick-up trucks to assist the Portland police in their crime-fighting efforts.

At a stakeholders meeting at the Ken Wright Pier in Port Antonio last night, government minister Daryl Vaz announced that money will be made available to purchase the two motor vehicles needed to assist the police in carrying out patrols, especially at nights, in communities where there has been a sharp increase in criminal activities.

“Sandals group have pledged J$1 million," announced Vaz. “Michael Lee Chin has also pledged J$1 million towards the purchase of the units and J$500,000 has also been pledged by a private citizen. From my Constituency Development Fund (CDF) I am contributing J$1 million," Vaz outlined at the meeting.

"Crime is everybody’s problem and we can no longer turn a blind eye, as it is now at our doorstep. Criminals will not be allowed to unleash fear and mayhem on our law abiding citizens," he added.

Earlier Police Commissioner Dr. Carl Williams urged Portlanders not to allow criminals to disrupt the peace and calm of a parish, which is considered the safest islandwide, but to instead report to the police any suspicious activity that they may have witnessed.

Conditions could very well get worst, if we allow criminal activities to manifest," warned Williams.

"I remember years ago Hanover was a safe parish, however with the migration of new persons to that parish, gangs were formed and they became deeply rooted. Today that parish is plagued by criminal elements- creating anarchy and mayhem in the lives of its residents. The same thing could happen to Portland. I urge you not to be too receptive towards strangers and to treat them with suspicion. Support the police in any way you can, so as to ensure your safety," the police commissioner recounted in as he emphasised the gravity of the problem.

The eastern parish has been grappling with a series of daring daylight armed robberies from by thugs, which is compounded by two recent double murders, rape, aggravated robbery, and domestic related crimes. The surge in crime in a parish that once enjoyed the luxury of having no more than two murders per year, has seen 12 killings since the start of this year.

And Minister of National Security Robert Montague said that a new crime initiative is coming on stream where the police will be looking at how criminal activities begins, how it is manifested, along with the support base of criminals.

"Crime did not start overnight, “said Montague. “It is like an inheritance, which started with bad parenting skills, illiteracy, and also with children having children in a common law setting. Once we have identified the problem, we will tackle its root."

Montague, however, warned that "this will not be a success overnight, but with a collective effort from citizens and stakeholders, we will succeed. Portland is renowned for its participation in the infamous drugs for guns trade between local fishermen and their counterparts in Haiti. The use of technologically equipment will definitely enhance the work of the police."