Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Crack task force to go after gangs

Published:Monday | July 6, 2020 | 12:28 AM

A Special Purpose Task Force comprising military and police assets has been formed to combat criminal gangs and organisations.

The elite group is an amalgamation of Specialised Operations of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Combat Support Battalion of the Jamaica Defence Force.

“The mission of the specialised operations is to deploy level-two to -four tactical policing assets to support the crime-reduction effort of the Jamaica Constabulary Force by targeting individuals and gangs that commit murders, shootings, robberies, and other violent crimes,” Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson is reported to have said.

“The intent is to dismantle and disrupt the most violent gangs in Jamaica by careful study and investigation of their organisation, facilitators, ethos, and financing to identify leadership and other key actors for law-enforcement applications,” the Force Orders said.

Attempts on Sunday to contact Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang were unsuccessful as calls to his mobile phone rang unanswered.

Chang, who in May tabled the report of the joint select committee that reviewed the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act of 2014, commonly called anti-gang legislation, indicated that 389 gangs operated in Jamaica at the end of 2019, eight more than the number identified in 2018.

According to Chang, 250, or 64 per cent, were deemed to be active, while the remaining 139, or 36 per cent, were classified as dormant.

SUPERIOR SKILLS

The elite task force is expected to be a high-quality operational response formation utilising superior intelligence-gathering, investigation, and tactical skills to solve public-safety problems.

Eighty-three per cent of criminal gangs in operation have been classified as ‘first generation’, with the remainder termed ‘second generation’.

The latter, the security minister has said, exhibited more centralised leadership and focused primarily on organised crime.

The Force Orders say gangs have been significant drivers of violence, especially murders, shootings, robberies, and rape, over the last 40 years.

Chang recently informed Parliament that the Corporate Area continues to account for the largest proportion of gangs and underscored that they enjoyed the strong backing of some communities.

In giving a breakdown, it was revealed that Police Area 4, which comprises the Kingston Western, Kingston Central, Kingston Eastern, St Andrew Central, and St Andrew South divisions, accounted for 249, or 64 per cent, of the total number of known gangs across Jamaica.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com