State of Public Emergency Reaping Results for St. James

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Elan Powell, says the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) in St. James continues to reap encouraging results.

Addressing a meeting of stakeholders at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday (May 15), ACP Powell said there has been a 72 per cent decrease in murders since the start of the SOPE on January 18.

In addition, shootings have dropped by 54 per cent from 61 to 28; 201 persons have been arrested and charged with various offences; and 49 firearms have been taken off the streets, to include 15 high-powered rifles; and 2,000 rounds of ammunition seized.

“We are seeing a decrease in all major crimes, except for break-ins,” said ACP Powell, who is Commander in charge of the operation.

He further informed that 20,186 tickets have been issued for various offences under the Road Traffic Act.

“A similar period last year, there would have been 1,500 to 2,000 (but) we have decided that it is the little things that matter, so if we deal with things like traffic violations, people will understand that this is a law-abiding town and people must respect the law,” he argued.

ACP pledged that the security forces will continue to ensure that there are high levels of compliance with the laws, even after the SOPE.

“The work has just started. We have to continue… we want to ensure that we change people’s attitude to law and order. That is how we are going to get a very safe community,” he pointed out.

He contended that achieving such change will require impacting the minds of young men who commit crimes.

He noted that the security forces have been reducing opportunities for crime significantly “by occupying some of the spaces that we now occupy, but that is the easy part. The more difficult part is to impact intent, because that is in the mind… so that (persons) don’t have the intention to commit the crime,” he outlined.

ACP Powell said that effective parenting plays a major role in impacting change, but noted that the effort also requires a collaborative approach involving churches, schools, community groups, and business people to identify strategies to guide young men.

“What about starting a real mentorship programme, going to the high schools and finding out who are the troublemakers, and you take two or three and say you are going to change their direction,” he suggested.

“You have to influence the mind, but you have to do it genuinely, because part of the challenge we have is that they see this as a struggle between us and them. So they will tell you they are seeking their own survival, but we have to tell them that there is a better way; we have to point them in a better way,” he pointed out.

In the meanwhile, ACP Powell commended residents, particularly business persons, for their support and patience during the security operations.

“I know that you know it is for the greater good. If tomorrow becomes better, all of us can be happy that we made the sacrifice,” he said.

On May 1, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to extend the SOPE in St. James until August 2, 2018.

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