Mon | Jul 22, 2019

More cops needed in Westmoreland, says McNeill

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:20 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

A rise in crime in Westmoreland is being blamed on an inadequate deployment of police and soldiers.

Dr Wykeham McNeill, member of parliament for Western Westmoreland, has called for the ramping up of boots on the ground to drive back criminals and offer comfort to rattled residents.

He was speaking with journalists following a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss Westmoreland’s high crime rate and the various criminal activities affecting the Negril resort area.

“Across the board in our stations, we feel that there needs to be a heavier deployment of security forces, and when we say security forces, we mean both police and soldiers. Whatever needs to be done to make that happen should be done because people are living under a pall of fear right now,” said McNeill at the Swept Away Hotel in Negril last Friday.

“If you take just Negril, for example, there are now 60 police officers deployed there, but you are coming from a situation where, 20 years ago, we were having five or six murders a year in Negril instead of the 30 that we are having now, and you had over 100 police deployed here,” McNeill added.

“So, basically, we feel that there has to be more security forces, more boots on the ground in Westmoreland to fight this scourge of crime,” he continued.

Over the last two years, Westmoreland has recorded 287 murders, with 2018 ending with figures of 146 killings. Since January this year, more than 30 murders are being investigated by the Westmoreland police.

In the meantime, retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Arthel Colley told the stakeholders’ meeting that another factor affecting Negril’s level of control over crime is the lack of trust in the police force.

“The police will get nowhere until the people start to trust them. People are thinking about the type of persons they see the police associating themselves with, and that is a problem, and you can’t solve crime that way,” said Colley.

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