Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Finally, murders on the decline out west - Hanover, Westmoreland register big reductions

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 12:14 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Beeput
Beeput

Western Bureau:

Based on the statistics in the latest Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Period Serious Crime Review, it appears that after years of non-stop climbing, western Jamaica is poised to see a decline in murders this year.

According to the statistics, Hanover and Westmoreland are seeing double-digit declines over last year; and St Elizabeth and Trelawny, which have been the best of the western parishes in recent years, are just the same. However, St James, which has been wearing the ‘murder capital’ moniker for several years, continues to have double-figure increase in murders.

In Hanover, one of the parishes blanketed by the ongoing tri-parish state of public emergency (SOE), which includes Westmoreland and St James, the police are cautiously optimistic that their efforts to quell lawlessness is bearing fruit. So far, this year, the parish has recorded 27 murders – a significant drop below the 50 recorded over the corresponding period last year.

“We are getting there and, hopefully, before long, Hanover will, once again be the safest parish in Jamaica. While the SOE has impacted very well, we must commend the good work of our commanding officer, Superintendent Beeput (Sharon),” a police officer told The Gleaner yesterday.

In 2017, Hanover registered 61 murders and last year the figure decline by two, to 59.

Westmoreland was the region’s most murderous parish in 2018 with 141 murders. This was substantially ahead of St James (105), Hanover (59), Trelawny (30) and St Elizabeth (22). With 72 murders so far this year, which is 50 fewer than the corresponding period last year, residents are cautiously optimistic that sanity is returning to the parish.

“I am very pleased, a reduction of 50 (murders) is fantastic … one life saved is one life spared,” said Westmoreland’s Custos Hartley Perrin. “My hope is that the decline will continue so that when the SOE is over, we will no longer have the challenges of the past.”

In St James, which appears to be at the back end of a recent spike in murders, the parish’s police high command is resolute in its resolve to take back the streets from violence producers. However, with 136 murders, which is 50 more than the 86 in the corresponding period last year, despite the ongoing SOE, the parish is at a crucial crossroads.

POLICE OPTIMISTIC

However, having seized 88 illegal firearms and arrested several top gangsters amid the mayhem, Superintendent Vernon Ellis is adamant that the police will ultimately succeed in their mission to arrest the criminals and restore order.

“We have been getting good results as it relates to seizing illegal firearms and taking criminals off the streets,” said Ellis, who recently unveiled a 21-member quick-response motorcycle unit to beef up security in the parish.

“We are calling on law-abiding citizens to remain calm and support the effort of the police because we have every confidence that we will ultimately make the parish safe for all its law-abiding residents,” Ellis added.