Montego Bay's mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, is calling for residents of the Second City and across the parish of St James to support the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) battalion, which Prime Minister Andrew Holness said would be stationed in the west to boost crime-fighting in 2017 and beyond.
"The citizens are crying out for this type of security activity, and I hope they will give the necessary support to stem the wave of senseless murders that are occurring in the parish," Davis told The Gleaner.
"I would also hope that what will be made available will be the necessary supporting tools to make this exercise a success. The parish of St James, over a number of years, has been seeing tremendous growth and development in tourism, the BPO industry, commerce, and a number of other areas, and as citizens, we must not allow criminal activity to ruin what has been achieved."
The mayor was responding to Holness' announcement in his New Year's message at the start of 2017, that the JDF would be sending a battalion - which comprises between 500 and 600 personnel - to assist in crime-fighting efforts in western Jamaica.
"There will be restructuring of the security forces to increase operation and administrative focus on the western parishes, which will see the western operational area for the police split into two and the JDF presence increased to a battalion stationed in Montego Bay, along with other infrastructure improvements to accommodate these changes," Holness had said in his address, echoing a similar announcement which had been made by JDF Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade in November.
The St James Police Division in western Jamaica recorded the highest number of murders in 2016, with 268 persons being killed out of the country's overall total of 1,350.