Murders plunge in June
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Murders for the first two weeks of June are trending downwards when compared with the same period last year, but the police are not ready to credit the decline to their late-May push to dismantle gangs in Kingston.
Police statistics obtained by The Gleaner show that 33 murders were reported up to June 13, falling from 62 for the similar period last year and 65 for the corresponding time frame in 2008.
However, the data also show that 15 of the 33 murders were committed from June 7-13, with seven coming on Sunday alone, making it one of the bloodiest days in recent weeks.
The military incursion into Tivoli Gardens on May 24 to arrest accused drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke was effectively used as a launching pad to neutralise gangs which have turned poor communities into criminal fortresses.
Since then, the police have imposed curfews in many sections of the capital, netting at least 86 illegal firearms and more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition.
Still watching for change
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, who is in charge of operational matters, acknowledged that murders have decreased in the past two weeks, but said it would be premature to conclude that this was a trend or merely a blip. The senior cop also refused to link the precipitous plunge in homicides exclusively to the clampdown on Tivoli Gardens and other west Kingston communities.
"It would be difficult to attribute it (reduction in murders) solely to the operations in west Kingston, because we have been having other operations across the island," he explained.
The traditional hot spots of Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon and St James accounted for 13 of the 15 murders reported last week. St Elizabeth and St Thomas had the remaining two.
Despite the sharp drop in the past two weeks, 767 murders have been recorded since the start of the year. The murder count is 68 more than was recorded over the similar period last year. A record 1,680 homicides were committed in 2009.
Among Sunday's victims were Floyd Lawrence, a 65-year-old pastor and dentist, and André Thompson, a 16-year-old student of Innswood High School, who was taken from his home in Lauriston, Spanish Town, and shot to death by gunmen.