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Chang outlines plans to beef up policing in Westmoreland

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:06 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang addressing stakeholders at a meeting at the Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, last Thursday night.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang addressing stakeholders at a meeting at the Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, last Thursday night.

WESTERN BUREAU:

HAVING COME under fire from residents in Westmoreland about the rising crime situation in the parish, especially the number of murders being committed, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has announced plans for personnel and infrastructural improvements for the local police.

Westmoreland has grabbed the spotlight in recent years with an increase in murders, placing it in the top five parishes in Jamaica with the most murders for 2021.

The parish has started 2022 on a very tragic note, accounting for seven murders up to last Thursday.

Residents across the parish have been calling for something to be done about the situation immediately, and at a face-to-face meeting with stakeholders on Thursday at the Manning’s School auditorium in Savanna-la-Mar, Chang revealed that four major gangs are at the root of most of the crime problem in the parish. Two of these gangs, he said, are located in the capital.

BREAK GROUND

Outlining the Government’s response to the cries for a solution to the crime problem, Chang, who is also Jamaica’s deputy prime minister, said there will be short-term and medium- to long-term responses to the problem.

“We (in the Government) recognise the Westmoreland challenge. We are doing work, and other things will be done. So in the short term, we will be sending 47 police officers here, and we have since sent several special ops teams,” he noted.

“In addition to that, we have designed – and it has gone to tender – to build a new police headquarters in Llandilo,” he added. “In addition to that, I should be here within a few weeks to break ground for the Little London station, and we are also putting in a new station at Frome,” he stated.

Arguing that there is an increasing propensity for Jamaicans to use violence to settle matters, the security minister added that the new design and concept being developed for police stations to be built will provide an atmosphere for more interaction to take place between the police and members of the community.

Chang noted that Westmoreland stands to benefit from other improvements being instituted nationally, such as the digitisation of all police stations by the end of this financial year, and the provision of various equipment, along with motor vehicles, among other things, aimed at building the capacity of the police.