Adrian Frater, News Editor
As it has done every year since 2006, the parish of St James, home of the nation's tourism capital Montego Bay, has hit the 100 murder mark, albeit that the police are reporting a 17 per cent decline in killings.
"We have a 17 per cent reduction in murders this year, which shows that we are going in the right direction," said senior superintendent Andrew Lewis, the parish's crime chief, noting that some parishes were seeing 30 and 40 per cent increases.
"However, 100 murders is nothing to celebrate... one hundred is one hundred too many...we wish we did not have any," added Lewis.
St James registered its 100th murder last Tuesday night when 22-year-old Kafi 'Adie' Simms, a resident of Rose Heights, was shot dead by two gunmen who accosted him along a roadway in the community.
In seeking to explain the policing strategy, which has led to the 17 per cent decline and made the police optimistic going forward, Lewis said the police's murder reduction plan is working well.
"Every division has a murder-reduction plan and the intensification of "vehicular check points" was introduced to help curtail the activities of criminals," said Lewis. "The murder-reduction plan has been highly successful in St James. I can't speak for other parishes but the "stop and search" of vehicles has been working well here."
Hoping for safer St James
Like the police, Nathan Robb, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is anxiously hoping for a much safer St James.
"The impression that is given is that, as long as we keep to under 100 (murders) it is ok. It is not good to think that 100 is a watermark and if we do not exceed it, then we are doing well," said Robb. "One murder is one too many."
Robb nonetheless noted, "Any reduction in the crime/murder rate must be congratulated ....the efforts of ordinary citizens in the process must also be celebrated," said Robb.
Robb also expressed pleasure in what appears to be a case of the ordinary citizen developing a greater level of confidence in the police.
"The police are making strides ... the ordinary citizens are beginning to feel comfortable in confiding with the police and reporting matters," noted Robb. "The level of unreported crimes seems to be lessening ... . We must commend the police as they continue to work to ensure that the partnership with civil society is not lost."