Residents of St James are being urged to unite in the fight against criminal activities and assist law enforcement efforts in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
This call comes from deputy prime minister and Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang.
Chang, speaking on Saturday (May 13) during a tour of Mount Salem in St James, noted that the community has experienced a flare up in murders and shootings in recent weeks, despite being a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO).
Chang said a greater level of community stakeholder collaboration will improve the police’s intelligence gathering capabilities, thereby enabling swifter arrests and prosecutions.
“I’ll ask the community to cooperate with the police in all aspects, from information and intelligence to if the police advise you to take some precaution,” he stated.
“Collaboration means, not only providing information, but also cooperation because, sometimes the police in identifying the problem, look at the source and see that retaliation is coming. When they advise citizens to take precautions, to protect themselves, I urge citizens to accept the advice of the police, he added.
Notwithstanding the current spate murders and shootings, the ZOSO in Mount Salem remains largely effective in reducing crime and gangs in the community, according to Chang.
He pointed out that there have been less than 10 murders over the ZOSO’s six-year duration.
The minister noted that the initiative’s “clear, hold and build” strategy reflects the Government’s commitment to root out dangerous gangs and high levels of violence.
“The policy of the Government is still to separate the violence producers and disrupt the gangs from the community,” Chang stated, while assuring that the Holness administration is “going to do everything to find the perpetrators and to urge citizens to give cooperation in identifying them.”
Meanwhile, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Area One division, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers, told journalists that there are strong leads in relation to apprehending the alleged perpetrators involved in the recent crimes.
He said technology is being employed, in addition to intelligence gathering and residents’ cooperation, to assist investigators in advancing the cases.
“We know who we’re targeting, we know where they’re likely to be; and we just want to tell the community to continue to support us,” Chambers emphasised.
The day’s tour also took Chang and members of Area One to sections of Hanover and Trelawny to assess the crime situation.