Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Effective! - Police commissioner says SOEs, ZOSOs have caused a reduction in murders

Published:Saturday | August 10, 2019 | 12:21 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

The policing strategy of implementing states of public emergency (SOEs) and zones of special operations continues to be labelled as ineffective.

However, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson has said that there is nothing that works as quickly and as thoroughly.

“We implemented a state of emergency in St James, and it stopped the number of murders by 200-plus in St James. It did not go up in other areas by even a fraction of that. That is the reality. It (SOE) drops violence like a light switch significantly by massive percentages,” said Anderson, who was speaking at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting on Thursday.

He noted that the states of emergency are welcome in the areas where people are most terrified of losing their lives, something not every Jamaican can relate to.

“The actual rounds that hit someone aren’t the total rounds [fired]. People are there wondering if tonight is their night where their door will be knocked off, when that AK-47 is opened at 2 a.m., there is nobody going back to sleep. Whether it is a young child or the elderly, you stay on the floor. You get flat, and you stay flat,” Anderson said.

He added: “We cannot have that happening in our country and not respond to it in a way that matches the terror and fear that our citizens feel. We cannot, at 1,600 murders a year, be the top three in the world for this and think we don’t have to do something extraordinary to get that down.”

Anderson said that while people claim SOEs will cause criminals to migrate and add to the murder numbers in other parishes, they benefit the poorest and most vulnerable of society.

“It is the poorer set of people in Jamaica who become victims of crime. So a lot of this effort is to allow people who are from communities they can’t move from, because they don’t have the means of doing it, to give them a chance to have a night of sleep,” he said.

Anderson said that he has stretched himself and will continue to push the boundaries of anything that needs to be pushed to ensure there are solutions to the crime and violence in Jamaica.

He said that much like the questions of whether or not these strategies will continue to be utilised as a effective method of policing, the answer will remain the same.

MURDER RATES

“There is a reality that we have to embrace with our circumstance. We stop when we don’t have a crisis anymore. Where are we with murders? The global average is six per cent, the regional average is 16 per cent, and we are, on a good year, at 47 per cent. We were at 61 per cent before coming down; we have to keep coming down.”

He added: “We cannot create a system of justice and law enforcement that can deal with 1,200 murders. You’re going to have to deal with an amount that is five times New York, with an eight-million population, with a 36,000 police force and a budget of US billions. What the state of emergency allows us to do is to shut it down quickly,” he told the gathering.

Anderson said that states of emergency cannot continue to be classified as ineffective when 14 gangs are now lined up to face the courts and other successes continue to be experienced.

rural@gleanerjm.com