Police chief indicates possibility of ZOSO in Kingston Central

DESPITE concerns about costs and manpower by the security minister, Police Commissioner Antony Anderson has indicated the possibility of a zone of special operations in Kingston Central, which is being affected by deadly gang conflicts.

Anderson, guest speaker at a meeting yesterday of the Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston, which was streamed via the Zoom digital platform, the commissioner, in response to questions from the Jamaica Observer, said that “Central Kingston is one of the places where a zone of special operations (ZOSO) would be required or in other words would lend itself to a zone of special operations at some point”.

Anderson said there was a list of 20 hot spots for crime in Jamaica, which numerous communities in Kingston Central fall under.

Anderson said, however, that the appropriate strategies have to be developed before more ZOSOs can be declared.

“Whether we will have a zone of special operations in Kingston Central, it is always on the table for anywhere that has long-term development and violence issues. But the worst thing is to just go in, form a little group to do something and then you just hope. We have had four years experience in Mount Salem and largely, there has been significant development there.”

Mount Salem which is in St James, Greenwich Town, Denham Town and August Town in Kingston and St Andrew are currently under ZOSOs.

On Tuesday, for the third week in a row, women of Central Kingston bearing placards took to East Street, between Sutton and Beaston Streets, protesting against ongoing violence in the constituency.

From January 1 to June 16, 2021 Kingston Central recorded 34 murders, 10 more than the corresponding period last year or a 42 per cent increase. Up to June 16, there were 29 incidents of shooting recorded by the police. Robberies have decreased in the constituency by 50 per cent, from 22 last year same period, to 11 in 2021.

At least 12 murders and several drive by shootings, that have caused severe injury, occurred from May 1, 2021 to date.

People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker for the constituency, Imani Duncan-Price, who was among the placard bearing women, told the Observer that they will be out there every week until they get the proper attention and response from politicians heading to Gordon House each Tuesday. What the people want is a ZOSO, she said, pointing out that the social intervention element would do wonders for key hot spot communities, such as Southside, Tel Aviv, Spoilers, Allman Town and communities which fall within the remit of the Kingston Eastern Police Division.

“This is our third week taking a stand against the violence, the guns and wanton murders of women and children all across Central Kingston and nearby communities. We will be here every single week until we get a definitive response from the prime minister and national security minister. We have written to [them] asking for a ZOSO and more resources for the police and social investment in the communities so that we can get a break from the violence, and young people can feel that we care about them, and we’ll keep pressing.

“Happy to say, the prime minister did reach out to me about what was happening and said that they will be taking action. We haven’t seen definitive action as yet on the ground. There have been curfews, but that is not working. I spoke to [Security] Minister Chang and he has put in place particular initiatives to drive further recruitment of well-trained police, and programmes through HEART, but we think they need more boost on the ground to stop the murders,” said Duncan-Price.

“We realise that reprisals are a key part of what is driving the murders, so we have engaged the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) to design a programme for communities all across Central Kingston that, we would hope, will have the same positive results that PMI has had in other places,” she said.

– See related story on Page 7

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