(CMR) States of Public Emergency (SOEs) have been declared in several parishes in Jamaica as the country continues to deal with a surge in murders. These are the parishes of Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover and specified areas of Kingston and St. Andrew.
Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness said the security measures are necessary to address the upsurge in criminal activity in the areas.
“The Government, after careful consideration of the advice of the security chiefs, decided to advise the Governor-General that it was necessary and, indeed, appropriate to declare States of Public Emergency in these areas,” he said.
“We have seen an increase in criminal activity in these areas and, indeed, a threat to property and in some instances, public disorder. It is important to note that we are also approaching the Christmas season, and this will require the deployment of even greater resources,” Mr. Holness added.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government must act in a preemptive way and maximize the available resources to save lives and property from the threats that exist.
Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, reported that up to November 13, there were 1,360 murders, an increase of 6.8 percent over last year.
“Of that figure, collectively, 10 of the 19 police divisions in [the areas under SOE] account for 72 percent of murders and 75 percent of shootings,” he said.
Commissioner Anderson said that the main drivers of violent crimes continue to be gang violence, accounting for 71 percent of all murders, and interpersonal conflicts, responsible for another 16 percent.
He said in areas where there have been SOEs, there has been a reduction in criminal activities.
“It will also give us some enhanced powers of search, which we will use, and greater flexibility in the use of our human resources. But I can tell you that with the powers, we will have a greater effect on what we are trying to get done,” he said.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss-Gorman assured citizens that the security forces are adequately trained and oriented to protect the human rights of all Jamaicans.
“Citizens will encounter various increased operational activities, including but not limited to vehicle checkpoints, mobile patrol, and curfews. These operational activities are not aimed at inconveniencing you but rather to assist in ridding your communities of criminal elements,” she said.
“Therefore, we ask you, those who live and work in the areas or travel through them, to be mindful and cooperative with the members of the security forces on the ground,” she urged.