St James crime task force needed, says Phillips

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Janet Sil­vera Se­nior Gleaner Writer janet.sil­vera@glean­erjm.com

WESTERN BUREAU: AS THE se­cu­rity forces con­tinue to strug­gle to deal with mur­ders in St James, Op­po­si­tion Leader Dr Peter Phillips has called for the cre­ation of a spe­cial task force to fo­cus on the par­ish, which has recorded more than 250 homi­cides so far this year.

Ac­cord­ing to Phillips, that new team should take a holis­tic ap­proach to crime, by iden­ti­fy­ing, build­ing ev­i­dence, ap­pre­hend­ing, and se­cur­ing con­vic­tions of lead­ing pur­vey­ors of vi­o­lent crim­i­nal­ity.

“Al­ready, year-to-date, there have been more mur­ders than there were in the entire 2016, and the year is not yet fin­ished. It is clear that de­spite the ef­fects of the zone of spe­cial oper­a­tions (ZOSO), vi­o­lent crime con­tin­ues un­abated in those sec­tions of the par­ish not in­cluded in the zone,” said Phillips fol­low­ing a meet­ing with ma­jor play­ers in the St James busi­ness com­mu­nity last Satur­day.

“The cur­rent up­surge of crime and vi­o­lence is un­ten­able. There is a grow­ing level of fear which seems to be per­vad­ing the entire com­mu­nity, and it is cer­tainly not to be dis­missed as be­ing just con­flict among gang mem­bers,” added Phillips, as he warned that the sit­u­a­tion threat­ens the entire eco­nomic foun­da­tion of Mon­tego Bay.

“I am told by stake­hold­ers that land val­ues are be­ing af­fected, or­di­nary com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions and in­vest­ment ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing re­tarded, and, most of all, fam­i­lies are mourn­ing. They are liv­ing in fear be­cause of this wave of vi­o­lence that is around now.”

He ar­gued that there was also an ur­gent need to ad­dress the break­down in pub­lic or­der.

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHOTO EDI­TOR

A young boy gets a ‘jockey ride’ across a flooded Church Street in down­town Kingston af­ter a heavy shower of rain yes­ter­day.

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