Support for 9 PM curfew for St James youth
Gloria Henry, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, said she is fully on board with the directive from Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor to implement a 9 p.m. curfew for students in St James.
Under this new directive, all students 17 years and younger must be off the streets by that time.
McGregor, who is the crime chief for the parish, said that the police are concerned that criminals have been preying on the vulnerability of many young children, luring them into illegal activities and turning their minds against wanting to go to school.
Henry believes it is a well-needed initiative that will augur well for children's safety.
"Even if the students are involved in extra-curricular activities, most, if not all, schools would be sending home children by 6 p.m., which means 9 o'clock would be enough time to be home," she told The Gleaner.
"I believe it's workable, and I think we have to get back to that place where parents have that control over their children. Too often, we see them at all hours of the night, and that cannot be safe, so I welcome it."
The senior superintendent pointed out that the only exception is if the child is in the company of a parent.
"It is not okay to see young kids on the streets at nights and way after school hours and in the company of so-called guardians. This is why we are emphasising parents as invariably, you hear that the person they are out with is a guardian," McGregor said.
He noted that a problem the police have been facing is that all the districts are not as receptive to the curfew idea for the children "as we would want them to be, but we are working assiduously at it".
"We are finding that these young people are being lured into all kinds of criminal activities. We want the parents to play a part as we the police alone cannot deal with it without their cooperation," he said.
Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams recently said that he was encouraged by the commitment of the St James police to tackle crime and that McGregor enjoyed his full confidence.
In 2014, McGregor instituted a similar curfew for west Kingston youth while he was the commanding officer for the Kingston Western Police Division.