Mon | Nov 18, 2019

Lucea mayor unhappy with removal of military checkpoint

Published:Monday | September 16, 2019 | 12:26 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels.
Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels.

Western Bureau:

The recent removal of the military checkpoint that had been in place in Orange Bay, Hanover, since the start of the ­triparish state of public emergency (SOE) is not going down well with residents, who are questioning the decision.

Seen as one of the parish’s major hotspots, Orange Bay, which is located on the main thoroughfare between Lucea and the resort town of Negril, is viewed as one of the areas migrating criminals are most likely to use to get around the region. In fact, statistics provided by the police show that after the checkpoint was established in Orange Bay, the area saw a significant reduction in criminal activities.

Lucea’s mayor, Councillor Sheridan Samuels, who is also chairman of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, expressed surprise when Superintendent Sharon Beeput, the commanding officer for the parish, told Thursday’s monthly meeting of the corporation that the checkpoint had been dismantled.

SHIFTED RESOURCES

In her report, Beeput explained that the “resources have been shifted” but said that the police will be doing everything to maintain their presence in the area.

“It is strange because I thought it was something that was working, or is it that it was working too well? said Samuels. “That checkpoint, people might not see the need for it, but I can tell you that it was working, especially in that area,” he said.

The mayor went on to question whether any consultation had been done with the various stakeholders before the decision to remove the checkpoint was taken. He said that he was very disappointed and concerned that the checkpoint was no longer there.

Other councillors at the meeting similarly expressed their disappointment that the military was no longer stationed at what they considered a strategic location to block the free movement of criminals.

“That is the checkpoint that was perfectly positioned to prevent Orange Bay from becoming volatile again, as well as prevent the free flow of criminals into places like Negril,” noted one councillor.

“Why that particular checkpoint, the only one within the boundaries of Hanover, was dismantled.”

Current SOEs and timelines

South St Andrew - July 7 - 21 (extended)

St James - April 30 - May 14 (extended)

Hanover - April 30 - May 14 (extended)

Westmoreland - April 30 - May 14 (extended)

Clarendon - September 3 - present (still within first 14 days)

St Catherine - September 3 - present (still within first 14 days)