Sat | Dec 14, 2019

More ZoSos, SOEs and public safety measures for early 2020

Published:Monday | December 2, 2019 | 12:17 AM
A passenger exits a taxicab in Half-Way Tree on Monday. The Government is to ramp up initiatives to re-establish order in town centres islandwide and crack down on taxi operators in particular, starting in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew. Kenyon Hemans/Photographer
A passenger exits a taxicab in Half-Way Tree on Monday. The Government is to ramp up initiatives to re-establish order in town centres islandwide and crack down on taxi operators in particular, starting in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew. Kenyon Hemans/Photographer

Following on Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ announcements at the 75th annual conference of the Jamaica Labour Party last Sunday, the Government has outlined a raft of measures, to include the possible institution of more zones of special operation (ZOSOs) and states of emergency next year, as it seeks to further reduce the country’s murder rate and improve public safety.

The measures were outlined during the monthly meeting of the National Security Council (NCS) last Thursday.

In a release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the Government revealed that the Jamaica Defence Force is advanced in its planning for the declaration of more communities under the zones of special operations and that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that the Government would be ready to declare more zones early next year.

“The NSC discussed the need to continue the process of driving down the murder rate through continued application of enhanced security measures,” the release stated. “This would include the continuation of the states of public emergency and the creation of new zones of special operations. This was deemed necessary even as all of the other legislative, technology, and security-force development plans are being implemented.”

The OPM says the prime minister has advised the NSC that he will hold further talks with the security chiefs to make the final decision. Prime Minister Holness noted that although the measures were implemented this year in a shorter time frame, the measures were successful in keeping crime in line with last year’s figures. He also pointed to the need for the continuation of the measures, as the conditions underlying the emergency still existed.

“The need for special legislation for enhanced security measures was also discussed and the attorney general, Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, gave an update on progress towards finalising the elements of such a legislation,” the OPM stated in its release.

Improve public safety

The OPM reported that the police are also implementing measures to improve public safety. It said that Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson noted that various technology projects being put in place are expected to deliver better communications, increased surveillance and enhance accountability.

The plans include a specially trained quick response team, which was launched in St James two weeks ago and is already reaping success, the OPM claims.

It says Prime Minister Holness is also maintaining the Government’s zero-tolerance policy to address disorder in public spaces and lawlessness on the nation’s roads. According to the OPM, the initiative has begun in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, which has been named the first effectively maintained zero-tolerance zone. It says the aim is to provide the public with a space to conduct business securely, traverse quickly, and have a sense of pride and dignity in main urban public space.