Wed | May 25, 2022

Westmoreland welcomes ZOSO

Residents call for more measured approach from security forces

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:09 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer
A police checkpoint is seen at an access point to the community of Russia, Westmoreland, on Sunday. The prime minister has announced the imposition of a zone of special operations in southern Savanna-la-Mar for 60 days.
A police checkpoint is seen at an access point to the community of Russia, Westmoreland, on Sunday. The prime minister has announced the imposition of a zone of special operations in southern Savanna-la-Mar for 60 days.

RESIDENTS in Savanna-la-Mar have welcomed the declaration of a zone of special operations (ZOSO) in the southern arc of the Westmoreland capital.

However, they are appealing to the security forces to exercise greater respect when carrying out their duties.

In the affected communities of Russia, Dexter Street, and Dalling Street, a number of residents who were seen sitting outside their gates on Sunday said they were now breathing easier with the activation of the security measure.

“You don’t know when them going strike. Without the ZOSO, we would have to lock up in our house today,” an elderly resident of Dalling Street told The Gleaner.

“Sometimes we can’t sleep sake a gunshot. Plenty night me and me grand pickney them have to sleep under bed because of the ‘bwoy’ them, and even in broad daylight, we have to hide in our house, so I’m glad to see the police and soldier them around here,” the woman stated.

But she warned against excesses by the security forces, indicating that she was displeased with how some detainees were already being treated.

“The way how me see them a handle them this morning, and fling them in the truck, that is not nice,” the woman went on.

One male resident from the Russia community, who gave his name as Marvin, said he was a former gangster who now welcomed the ZOSO.

He also expressed concerns about the approach of some members of the security forces towards law-abiding citizens. Marvin has suggested that the ZOSO – preliminarily set for 60 days – should be in force for at least a year.

“Is whole heap of youth the police them scrape up in the truck and gone with them, and is plenty of them youth there a decent people, who come from decent background and never mix up in crime from the day them born,” said Marvin, adding that some of the detainees did not have on their person identification cards.

The Westmoreland police reported that during the course of Sunday’s operation, more than 50 persons were picked up and processed by the joint security team.

Westmoreland was listed as the fourth most murderous parish in Jamaica last year, with 121 homicides. That trajectory has continued, with the parish tallying eight murders in 16 days.

The parish has also accounted for the most double murders, three, across the island since the start of this year. The first took place in Cornwall Mountain on New Year’s Day. A few days later, two brothers were gunned down in Carawina district, while the third occurred in Long Hill, Whitehouse, last Wednesday.

The most recent killing occurred on Saturday afternoon in the Russia community, where fishermen discovered the bullet-riddled body of an unidentified male floating in a river.

Three ZOSOs have been imposed in western Jamaica –Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland; and Mount Salem and Norwood in St James.

hopeton.bucknor@gleanerjm.com