Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Starting this weekend, a raft of fresh policing strategies and crime-fighting initiatives are to be introduced in the downtown commercial district as festive and commercial activities heighten in preparation for the Independence holidays and back-to-school activities.
The disclosure was made yesterday by Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, who is in charge of the commercial centre.
"We have some strategies that we are going to be rolling out on the weekend," McGregor said.
"The fact is that school is out and there are increased activities downtown, such as parties on the (Kingston) waterfront, and a lot of things happening down that side of the Corporate Area, so we have to be focusing on it," he added.
McGregor downplayed claims by residents that there was an upsurge in the number of robberies in the busy commercial area.
Small interests affected
Contrastingly, owners of small commercial interests, as well as residents, have been complaining that a spate of hold-ups and robberies in the area was making life miserable for them.
Tension has increased in the community since armed men held up businessman Paul Samuda, son of high-profile politician Karl Samuda, and snatched his licensed firearm. The robbers reportedly forced their way into Samuda's Orange Street-based business establishment in broad daylight.
The elder Samuda subsequently told The Gleaner that his family was shaken by the incident, which comes a year after his own firearm was stolen from his St Catherine home.
Police have confirmed that the elder Samuda's weapon has been recovered and is at the Spanish Town Police Station, but there is no sign of the weapon belonging to his son.
Residents told The Gleaner that in recent weeks, a dentist's office on Orange Street has been robbed, as well as a wholesale food and meat establishment.
"The thieves are so bold and barefaced that they dared to hold up the dentist's office one week and returned the following week to rob the proprietor (of the wholesale) which is located across the street," one resident said.
The residents claimed the hoodlums regularly hold up and rob unsuspecting pedestrians walking to and from the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals.
"Chain grabbing and telephone stealing are on the rise as petty thieves run rampant in the area," one person said.
But if the residents are correct, it would appear that many of the crimes have gone unreported.
"I am not getting anything in any alarming way," McGregor said. "In any business district you are going to have robberies, but it is not as high as it used to be some years ago."