Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Devon Watkis says domestic disputes and the failure of people to resolve conflicts amicably are to be blamed for the dramatic rise in murder in Hanover.
Police statistics indicate that there have been 34 murders between January 1 and last Saturday. The figure represents a 143 per cent increase over 14 recorded in the parish for the corresponding period last year.
The increase is the steepest among the 19 police divisions islandwide. Only Portland, with six murders at this juncture last year, had recorded fewer murders than Hanover.
"We have looked at the frequencies of unresolved disputes and a work plan has been developed as a part of our murder reduction strategy," said ACP Watkis, the commanding officer for Area One Police, told The Gleaner.
Watkis added: "I am concerned about the inability of residents to adequately resolve their disputes without resorting to violence, and that is an area we are looking at."
Watkis has called on residents not to take the law into their own hands in dealing with domestic issues.
"We want to specifically appeal to the people to avoid any inclination of taking on the justice administration on their own as we won't tolerate any mob killing," ACP Watkis said.
trying to address issue
In the meantime, ACP Watkis said the police are now putting strategies in place to address the general crime issue in Hanover as they are determined to reverse the ugly bloodletting trend.
"We are looking at our policing response and that is being communicated to the team of persons there,"ACP Watkis said.
"Violent crimes are up in the more rural sections of the parish ... . We have recognised that," the lawman said. "We have re-strategised to take those into account ... we have imposed several curfews, depending on the places."
The commanding officer has said there is a need for the citizens to assist and play their part and has called on persons to join hands with the police in fighting crime in their areas.
Area One consists of Hanover, St James, Westmoreland and Trelawny. The police statistics show that Westmoreland has recorded 65 murders up from 54 last year; St James has recorded 136 murders down from 140 last year; while 14 murders have been recorded in Trelawny down from 17 last year.