By Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter
AS A Cabinet sub-committee gets ready to meet this morning to deal with issues relating to crime and public order, the police are reporting that last month was the bloodiest in the last 30 years of Jamaica's history.
The slaughter continued into July, as on the weekend the country's murder tally increased with the killing of prominent Highgate couple Winston Chin and his wife, Ilene, who were gunned down at their gate in the Claremont district, St. Mary, Saturday night.
Mr. Chin, 56, a Justice of the Peace in Annotto Bay, and his wife, 50, drove up at their gate in a Toyota Hiace minibus when they were pounced upon on by armed thugs. The Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) said the gunmen opened fire, hitting Mr. Chin.
His wife ran from the vehicle and was chased and shot a short distance away, the CCN reported. They were taken to the Annotto Bay Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
"It is really a disturbing sign," said 'Bobby' Pottinger, the Custos of St. Mary. He described the acts as a shock to the usually quiet community.
The Custos said he intends to meet with the Police High Command in the parish to discuss strategies to strengthen community crime-fighting initiatives. Mr. Pottinger said he will be targeting neighbourhood watches and citizens' associations to encourage them to be more alert.
June, a month normally associated with weddings, saw over 150 persons murdered in separate incidents across the island. The police reported that 83 persons were murdered in June last year and between 1998 and 2004, an average of 80 persons were killed in that month.
"We have not seen any pattern or trend, nothing new has been happening within the period to link the increase to anything," Deputy Commissioner Lucius Thomas told The Gleaner.
He attributed most of the killings to reprisals, gang feuds and domestic violence. While expressing concern about the high incidence of homicides, the Deputy Commissioner said the idea came up some time ago that a study should be done on the months of April, May and June, to establish the reasons for the increase in homicides within this period.
WEEKLY CRIME STATISTICS
Last week, Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said that the Public Order Committee will meet today to advance the process of dealing specifically with the issues of crime, violence and public order.
He said that the meeting is a follow-up to the recent national broadcast to the nation by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, in which he addressed the crime problem and social disorder in the country.
The police weekly crime statistics point to 45 killed in the first week, the second week another 31 persons were killed, the following week the figure decreased to 27 and the fourth week it increased to 42.