Wed | Oct 17, 2018

National security minister warns gangsters in Westmoreland

Published:Monday | September 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Horace Chang

WESTERN BUREAU:

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says if it comes to that, the government is prepared to be more aggressive in pursuing criminal elements murdering children and other law-abiding citizens in Westmoreland by raising the bar with intensive security operations.

"If we have to raise the bar and move in there (Westmoreland) more aggressively with other things, we are prepared to do it, "Chang told reporters in Montego Bay on Saturday at a Child Justice guidelines training seminar for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the Iberostar Hotel.

"We have made several operational changes in Westmorland which had significant successes initially, (but) we have seen the thing (crime and violence) moving again," he said.

"We are doing some work down there, which I can't go into details on, but the Westmoreland crime is driven by a number of gangs, which we have identified and will be taking steps to dismantle them," Chang stated.

"One, in fact, was heavily degraded, the Dexter street gang and you would have noticed that the killing in Savanna-la-mar proper, has been reduced (now). We now have to look outside of Savanna-la-mar, where Grange Hill, Little London and Negril to a lesser extent are becoming the hot spots," the National Security Minister said.

Shamar Tomlinson of Crowder district in Grange Hill, a 16-year-old student of Manning School was among four people shot and killed during a window covering five and a half hours between last week Sunday night and 3 am on Monday in separate incidents in Westmoreland.

Rapid murder increase

Those shooting incidents have contributed to the rapid increase in the murder statistic in the parish, where 104 persons have been killed since January. The other killed were 20-year-old Davian 'Bolo' Malcolm of Russia district, 32-year-old Relando Reid and 35-year-old jerk chicken vendor Wayne Sweetland.

While not revealing what is meant by "other things", Dr Chang said "we will be taking some steps to correct that," making reference to the upsurge in gun violence in Westmoreland.

At the same time, there are speculation that the Police high command of the security forces are contemplating declaring enhance security measures for the Westmoreland police division with either a state of public emergency or a zone of special operations, similar to those currently taking place in the neighbouring parish of St. James.