Murders top 750
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Amid a major drive by the security forces to neuter gangs and clamp down on violent crime across Jamaica, police statistics indicate that 752 people were killed in the first five months of the year.
This means that for the first 151 days of the year, an average of just under five murders were com-mitted daily. The staggering figure reflects that 99 more murders have been recorded in 2010 than for the corresponding period last year.
A member of the Police High Command, who requested anonymity, said it was too early to gauge the impact on the crime rate from security sweeps throughout the Corporate Area. Those operations have resulted in gun seizures, mass detentions, the surrender of alleged crime lords, and a relentless hunt for No. 1 fugitive, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
Police data obtained by The Gleaner show that 655 of those murdered this year were men, while the gun featured in 584, or 78 per cent, of homicides.
The police, however, have not established a motive for 490, or 65 per cent, of the murders.
Murder trends held true to form in Jamaica's five bloodiest parishes - Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, St James and Clarendon - which accounted for 620 of the violent deaths from January to May. St Catherine and St Andrew both recorded 172 homicides; St James, 110; Kingston, 87; and Clarendon, 79.
These parishes totalled 524 murders over the corresponding period last year.
St Catherine, with its two divisions - including the volatile Spanish Town - registered the biggest jump, skyrocketing from 115 murders for January-May 2009 to 172 this year.
Several attempts to get a comment from chief of the police Area Five headquarters, acting Assistant Commissioner Ray Palmer, were unsuccessful.
All three divisions in Kingston recorded upticks - ranging from an increase of one murder in Kingston
Central to 14 in the volatile Kingston Western zone.
Assistant Commissioner Gervis Taylor, who heads Area Four, said most of the crime was centred in Arnett Gardens and the northern belt of the Kingston Western Division.
"It wasn't a case where people were being shot in the streets, but people dumping bodies in these areas," he explained.
Taylor cautioned that the increases in the first five months should be viewed against the backdrop of a significant reduction in Area Four over the past three years.
The parish of St Mary recorded 12 murders over the period, up from two for the same time last year, thus recording a 500 per cent jump.
However, Superintendent Dudley Scott, who is in charge of the parish, said that while residents should be concerned, there was no need for alarm.
He said domestic disputes and the activities of migratory criminals were to blame for the spike.
And if you are interested in finding the safest harbour, move house and head to Portland. Only five persons have been murdered there this year.