Salt Spring residents call for SOE extension
RESIDENTS OF Salt Spring, St James, and its environs are calling for an extension of the state of emergency (SOE) in the parish, which will officially end at midnight on Tuesday.
The enhanced security measure was implemented for a 14-day period, starting November 8. However, with no serious crimes – such as murder, aggravated assault and robbery – recorded in the parish in the first 12 days, many residents are breathing a sigh of relief.
They want the measure to continue until at least December 31.
“The SOE nuh fi stop because wah deh gwaan cyaan cool dung fi two weeks,” one Salt Spring resident told The Gleaner.
“No gun nuh find in yah. No man nuh find in yah. Them seh them find two men – one in Barrett Town and one in St Elizabeth. Where are the others?” asked the resident. “Give us until Christmas week, let us see what’s going on.”
The resident further noted that the children in the community had just got a reprieve, but as soon as the police and soldiers leave the area, they will return to the confines of their homes.
“Them relaxed now, but when gun start fire again, our children will start with the ‘fretration’ (fretting), because we don’t know when and how. It is too quick.”
The residents were unable to say what prompted the latest round of violence in the community, which was fast becoming a model of calm. But they are adamant that things cannot cool down this quickly.
“This is a gang war. I see in two weeks my daughter has been up and down in the community, because my granddaughter attends the school and is comfortable passing the police. When them lift up, she not going back up there. Don’t want to be the wrong person at the wrong time,” one resident said.
The concerns come in the wake of the gun murders of two boys and an adult who were travelling in a taxi along the Flower Hill main road on November 6.
Nine-year-old Nahcolive Smith, and seven-year-old Justin Perry, both students of the Chetwood Memorial Primary, along with 26-year-old Tevin Romanio Hayle, who was believed to be the gunmen’s target, died in the incident.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers told The Gleaner on Monday that a suspect, who was arrested last week at a guesthouse in Barrett Town, St James, remained in custody.
“Investigators are executing their investigative strategy accordingly, which includes recorded statement interview/interrogation and the use of technology in establishing requisite offence/s,” Chambers told The Gleaner during an interview at the Area One Open House Day at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay.
The senior cop said he would back any measure that would keep crime low in the parish.
“Any legislation that provides our law enforcement members with legislative latitude to act legally, and adds to crime being reduced, or perpetrators being arrested and confined in a geographic space allowing the team to go in and do their work, I will subscribe to,” said Chambers.
He said the SOE is a major success and it is something that he and his team look forward to in successfully tackling crime.
“I am supporting the extension of any police initiative that results in the reduction of crime and violence. If it is the state of public emergency, I support it; if it is a surge operation, I support it,” he stressed.
A surge operation, he explained, is heightened police activity wherein they are able to saturate the roadways as best as possible, but does not provide the latitude that a SOE provides.