March records least murders in 9 yrs
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
LAW-ENFORCEMENT officials are celebrating a major feat in the fight against crime after March ended as the least bloody month since 2003.
Police statistics indicate that 69 persons were murdered last month, four fewer than recorded in March last year.
In order to find a month in which fewer persons were murdered, one would have to go back to February 2003 when the police recorded 56 cases.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting moved to congratulate the security forces for the feat.
Bunting: "... Although 69 murders in one month is still too high, we are encouraged, as this is a significant step in the right direction."
"We are still facing challenging times ahead, and we will not reach our goal of less than one murder per day by incrementalism, but by continually challenging ourselves with aggressive goals," the minister said.
He added: "For this reason, 69 is the new benchmark we will be seeking to better in the months to come."
Questions about direction
The nine-year low comes at a time when questions are being raised about the national security direction of the country.
Last week, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness expressed concerns about the handling of the national security portfolio.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Holness said: "Deep down, I still have a suspicion and a concern that that the national security plan that we left in place, which would have seen a more balanced approach to crime fighting ... that is slowly breaking."
Under Bunting's watch, the number of murders in the first two months of the year totalled 192. Some 104 of the murders took place in January and 92 in February.
The number of murders in January 2011 was 90 while 77 persons were murdered in February that same year.
Bunting told The Gleaner yesterday that the reduction was a result of strategic planning.
"Six weeks ago, St Catherine North Division's murder rate was high and threatening to explode with inter- and intra-gang conflicts. We put hundreds of additional Mobile Reserve and Jamaica Defence Force personnel into that division and we haven't had a murder there in the last three weeks," Bunting said.
The minister said the security forces have "been pressuring the lotto scammers because so much of St James' violence is fuelled by lotto scam money".
He also listed an anti-gang media communications campaign that seeks to delegitimise these criminal organisations within communities.
"This outcome reflects the hard work and strategic planning of a very committed joint Jamaica Constabulary Force-JDF High Command and the efforts of dedicated and brave men and women on the front line," the minister said.