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Police ready to take the fight to gangsters

Published:Friday | April 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

WITH THE Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, commonly known as the anti-gang law, set to take effect shortly, the Police High Command says it is ready to hit the ground running by moving decisively against criminal gangs.

On Monday, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen gave his assent to the far-reaching piece of legislation and it is now only a matter of days before the police get the green light to proceed with the tough criminal law.

The man in charge of operations in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds, said the first order of business for the force is to prosecute persons who commit offences set out in the law.

"We are going to exploit it (anti-gang law) to its full potential and apply all the provisions against gang members and organised criminal groups," Hinds told The Gleaner.

He indicated that even with this crucial piece of statute, the police alone could not eliminate the activities of criminal organisations but needed the support of communities across the country.

The senior cop emphasised that law enforcement was only one element in the fight against criminal gangs, noting that a partnership between the police and the community was necessary in order to make inroads into gang activities.

The deputy commissioner of police is also indicating that the force has trained personnel in preparation for the introduction of the anti-gang law.

"We would have built capacity in terms of knowledge ... . We are ready to utilise the law the moment we get it," he said.

In an earlier interview with The Gleaner, Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington had said the force was ready to implement the anti-gang law in terms of its investigative and intelligence capabilities. He said the force was also prepared in terms of having a counter-gang strategy.

Police data indicate that 80 per cent of Jamaica's murders are reportedly being committed by gangsters. The police also estimate that there are some 200 criminal gangs operating in the country.