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Ellington shuffles the pack

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2010 | 2:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

Acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington has announced changes in the leadership of some police divisions after a worrying start to 2010.

Ellington did not provide reasons for the changes, which become effective on February 16, but checks by The Gleaner show that after a record year of murders in 2009, the country is off to an even bloodier start this year.

Data accumulated by The Gleaner, based on daily releases from the Constabulary Commu-nication Network (CCN), show 125 murders for January, an almost 10 per cent increase over the 115 murders officially reported in January 2009.

Perhaps even more worrying is the 17 women killed across the island in January, up from eight for the corresponding period last year.

This was also more than 2008 when 11 women were killed in January, and 2007, when 15 were murdered in the first month of the year.

St Catherine was the worst parish for women last month, with six females being killed, while five women were killed in Kingston and St Andrew. This included Karla Chito, who was killed in a suspected murder-suicide on Saturday.

With a record 1,680 murders last year, the parishes of St Catherine, St James, Clarendon, Kingston and St Andrew led the body count, and 2010 has started with no change.

Gleaner numbers show 37 murders in Kingston and St Andrew, 27 in St Catherine, 21 in Clarendon and 17 in St James.

There were no reported murders in Portland, while the police in Hanover and St Ann reported one murder each last month.

Police shootings down

In addition to the murders, The Gleaner data show 18 people were fatally shot by the police, last month, down from 22 in January 2009.

The police also reported the seizure of 53 illegal weapons and almost 900 rounds of ammunition.

One policeman was murdered during the month, while 40 missing children alerts were issued. Early in the month, the police reported that 11 missing children had returned home.

The police statistical department is expected to release the official crime figures by the middle of this month.

However, even before the official release of the numbers, Ellington yesterday announced changes in the leadership of some divisions.

The most notable change will be St James, which recorded 17 killings in January. That was just above the 14 murders reported in the parish in January 2009.

Ellington has decided to shift Superintendent Merrick Watson from St Elizabeth to replace Superintendent Maurice Robinson in St James in a straight swap.

Crime chief for the Kingston West Police Division, Deputy Superintendent Arthur Brown, will take over as head of that division, replacing Superintendent Hugh Bish, who has been shifted to the Mobile Reserve.

However, there is no change to Clarendon, where Superintendent Dathan Henry will remain in charge, despite an almost 100 per cent increase in murders in January 2010 when compared to last year.

Steve Brown, who had gone on study leave, will become the first police inspector in charge of the Constabulary Communication Network.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com