Portmore police stage fight back
Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer
THE ST Catherine South police have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to crime which has been on the rise in several Portmore communities.
"We are not yielding to anyone anymore. We used to do that," stated tough-talking Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, head of the St Catherine South Division, during a Gleaner Editors' Forum held at the Portmore Municipal Council last Friday.
He disclosed to the gathering of public officials and civic leaders that the municipality had witnessed an increase in all major crimes during the past year except carnal abuse.
This, the divisional police chief said, can result in increased fear among residents and the discouragement of investment.
Nesbeth said most of the problems were attributed to gang warfare, noting that over 70 per cent of murders in the division were linked to the interaction of these groups.
"We have situations with gangs, 19 of which exist within the division. We have some major ones which have evolved into what we call 'third-generation' gangs, within the Boston and Newlands areas," the superintendent disclosed.
Nesbeth said the police had achieved many successes with regard to reducing the influence these groups within the municipality, and would be building on these going forward.
"We are seeking to enforce the law, especially within these communities, and some people might think it is a bit austere," Nesbeth said resolutely.
He said the police had undertaken several initiatives, including the Proceeds of Crime Act, to target persons linked with gangs, seizing assets gained in questionable activities.
Another initiative, that of community policing, combined with partnerships within communities, has also been undertaken.
Additionally, there has been a beefing up of resources to deal with the crime scourge.
Up to 75 per cent of police officers have been actively deployed within the division compared to 25 per cent in administrative positions, a move Nesbeth said was made possible following the recent acquisition of new vehicles.
"Portmore was blessed with six new vehicles. They are solely for the purpose of policing the streets and they are deployed especially in what you would term, the 'crime band' areas," he reported.
"We are reaping good fruits with that already," the superintendent explained.
Nesbeth said the police boasted a high success rate last year despite the increase in crime, noting they had recovered more than 90 firearms.
He said several persons, including gang members linked to major crimes, had been placed behind bars.
The superintendent also pointed out that the police were taking steps to put a significant dent in the drugs-for-guns trade that operates out of Hellshire and Old Harbour Bay.
"We are seeking to get the marine and coastguard components more actively engaged and placed in these areas. Rather than calling them to respond, they'll be at our beckon call," said Nesbeth.
The main crime hot spots in Portmore are Braeton, Port Henderson, Newlands, Naggo Head, Hellshire and Waterford.
- Supt Marlon Nesbeth