As murders continue to increase in the police divisions of St James and Westmoreland, Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen has authorized a declaration of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in the parishes.
The SOEs commenced at 12:01 a.m. today (June 22) and will be in effect for 15 days.
This announcement was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness today (June 22). In a statement, the Prime Minister said that the SOEs are declared in response to a surge in criminal activities in the respective parishes and represent the government’s commitment to safeguarding the lives of innocent citizens.
“We have had some success in reducing murders, however, criminal acts have become more brutal and gruesome. We must dismantle the threat to law and order posed by the prevalence of organized gangs. The government will continue to use the available tools to protect the lives of our citizens,” Holness said.
Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Horace Chang also noted that the rule of law, public safety and national security continue to be threatened by crime and violence.
“As a government, we must respond to this threat and challenge the culture of criminality that exists in some communities within these areas,” Change added.
Commissioner of Police, Anthony Anderson noted that the recommendation for an SOE in both parishes is a result of a spike in inter and intra-gang murders.
For her part, Jamaica Defence Force, Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss-Gorman said ” The JDF supports the recommendation for the declaration of State of Public Emergency, covering the parishes of St James and Westmoreland. We continue to work closely with the JCF to secure the nation.”
This comes as the St James police division recorded the highest number of murders for the period (January 1 to June 19), with a total of 95 murders and Westmoreland with the second highest with 54 murders.