Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Lockdowns not a crime-fighting tool, says commish

Published:Thursday | September 16, 2021 | 12:12 AMCorey Robinson/Senior Staff Reporter
Police Commissioner Antony Anderson.
Police Commissioner Antony Anderson.

Jamaicans hoping that the extended coronavirus lockdowns would bring reprieve from marauding criminals are making a grave mistake, said Police Commissioner Antony Anderson, who yesterday redirected public criticism over an increase in murders despite no-movement orders by the Government.

Eighteen people were killed in 48 hours late last week. Seven of the murders occurred last Saturday, while 11 took place on Friday.

Early Sunday morning, a quadruple murder rocked Havanna Heights in Clarendon.

Four persons were also murdered and seven others wounded in the first three days of the COVID-19 lockdown last month.

Overall, the country has recorded more than 935 murders and 815 shootings since the start of the year, an increase of roughly 9.7 and 2.4 per cent, respectively, when compared with 2019.

Eighty-five per cent of the homicides this year were committed with a gun, with 92 per cent of last week’s victims killed with illegal firearms, said the commissioner.

“The lockdown is a COVID-19-prevention measure. The lockdown is not a murder-prevention measure. They are two different things,” charged Anderson in response to reporters’ questions at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

“Understand that violence works differently from crime-for-profit. The person who was going to murder somebody at 12 o’clock midnight, they bring it forward to 3 p.m. The person who is murdering the person on the next street goes through the bush, through a ‘choppy’, to go murder the person on the next street,” added the commissioner, noting that there cannot be a mixing of crime and COVID-19, “Jamaica’s two pandemics”.

He explained that familiarity among warring gangsters – for example, in Central Kingston, where feuding gangsters often grew up together, attended the same schools and shared meals – has made crime prevention by the police extremely difficult even with the increased powers and access to lawmen afforded by less vehicular traffic and decreased public distractions during lockdowns.