St James has recorded a 60 per cent decline in murders over the last seven weeks, prompting commendation for the hierarchy of the Area One Police from National Security Minister Peter Bunting.
Bunting was delivering the main address during the Community Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) Scholarship Award ceremony for Western Jamaica at the West Jamaica Conference Centre of Seventh-day Adventist in Montego Bay yesterday.
Bunting was speaking against the background of a vigil held in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, seven weeks ago involving civic leaders, the police, and politicians who came out to register their disgust over the rape of four women and an eight-year-old girl in the parish.
"I am very encouraged that in seven weeks since we have seen a very substantial reduction in crime and I want to credit that to the hard work of the police force under the leadership in St James of Superintendent Andrew Lewis and the area under the care of assistant commissioner of police in charge of Area One, Devon Watkis," the minister said.
Civil-society key players
Bunting also credited civil society for the role it played in spurring a reduction in not only murders but other crimes in the parish.
"The determination of the civil-society players that they did not want to see St James continuing in that direction and having taken a stand against it also had an important part to play in the progress that was made," he said.
While cautioning that only seven weeks had passed, the minister noted that though everything was not OK, the signs were pointing to encouraging developments.