Portland is still the safest parish- Swearing
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
With murders increased by a little more than 50 per cent when compared to last year, commanding officer for Portland Deputy Superintendent of Police Rex Swearing, is maintaining that it is still the safest parish islandwide.
Swearing, who took over the top job some six months ago, said the police have done enough, especially with the limited resources at their disposal, in curbing crime, which has seen a downward trend in some areas.
"We have had our challenges as it relates to mobility. There is a shortage of vehicle to adequately carry out patrols effectively in some communities, especially at nights.
"Nevertheless, the men and women under my command have shown full commitment to the task ahead.
"As a matter of fact, residents have now developed an excellent relationship with the police, which have allowed us to disrupt the operations of those with criminal minds and intent," Swearing told The Gleaner.
According to him, there has been a downward trend in some crimes: break-ins is down by 29 per cent, robbery down by 69 per cent, and rape down by 16 per cent. However, despite providing data showing that major crimes have trended downwards, the parish has recorded 15 murders, in comparison to nine for the same period last year.
Swearing noted that the police have not seen any pattern in relation to the murders, however, he said that they are planning to tackle crime through community-based policing activities, such as youth clubs, neighbourhood watch, and farmers, group watches, as well as increased police presence.
As it relates to domestic violence, Swearing said the police intervene swiftly and encourage persons to seek counselling where possible or act as mediators in dispute resolutions.
Swearing continued: "We have competent persons to deal with dispute resolution, but unless the police are informed about a particular situation, then there is very little we can do. We try to encourage those engaged in a love triangle that suddenly turns sour, to either settle their disputes peaceably, seek counselling, or to end the relationship by moving on. It is better to walk away than to end up becoming a victim or a murderer."
The commanding officer is also seeking to reassure residents and the business community that the police will try to maintain the parish's reputation as being the safest islandwide.