Sunday, February 14, 2016
We are prepared!BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter
MONTEGO BAY, St James — COMMANDER of the Police Area One Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Warren Clarke says the police have intensified their operations across western Jamaica, in the wake of an upsurge in criminal activities in the region.
"We are prepared to do what we have to do to contain violence. We will be hard at work in ensuring that not only criminals are kept in check, but we will be visible to law-abiding citizens who can be assured that the State is in charge and the security forces are their friends," ACP Clarke told the Jamaica Observer West during a telephone interview yesterday.
There has been a recent upsurge in murders reported in the parishes of St James and Westmoreland, two of the four police divisions in Area One. Trelawny and Hanover are the other two parishes that complete the Police Area One, and they too have seen an increase in major crimes.
But of the parishes in Area One, it is the St James Police Division that appears to be the most worrisome for the lawmen.
Infact, the parish has the highest number of murders committed across the country since the start of the year, an unenviable feat which they also managed to accomplish last year.
Since the start of the year, 130 murders have been recorded in the parish, which is similar to the number recorded for the corresponding period in 2012.
Over in Westmoreland, the number of homicides this year has jumped to 73, 12 more than the corresponding period in 2012.
But ACP Clarke noted yesterday that more than 100 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which included three senior cops, as well as members of the Jamaica Defence Force were deployed on Operation Resilience in Spring Mount, Johns Hall and Barrett Town, St James, in an effort to stem the crime wave, adding that that other divisions in the Police Area One, including Westmoreland, have been directed to conduct "simultaneous and aggressive road policing".
Operation Resilience was recently launched by the Police High Command, particularly to crush criminal gangs.
But a few weeks ago, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, who was speaking in Montego Bay, lamented that despite the success of the initiative in other police divisions, the bloodletting continues in St James.
"The JCF launched Operation Reliance for the beginning of this (last) month and have had good success in almost every police division, but St James continues to be one of the most challenging divisions," Bunting then said.
"We made some good progress in St James over the last year or so, but we have seen some slippage recently. And we have to cauterise that, and nip it in the bud."
Following the introduction of Operation Resilience in Westmoreland, a joint police/military team recovered six firearms during an operation in which two members of the Alma Gang were killed in a shoot-out.
The Alma Gang, led by Torneal Haughton, alias Malta, has been fingered in a high percentage of the murders in the parish.
Meanwhile, ACP Clarke noted that the relationship between the police and members of the public has improved since the introduction of Operation Resilience.
This, he emphasised, has raised public trust and confidence in the police, giving rise to a flow of valuable information, necessary in the law enforcers' battle with criminal elements.
"Witnesses are coming forward. More and more the public are seeing us as their friends," ACP Clarke argued.
There has been public mistrust for some members of the police force who have been accused of being corrupt.
But, ACP Clarke noted that the number of corrupt cops in the force has been significantly reduced.
"We are not as concerned as we were before. But we are mindful that they still exist. Every time they show themselves we show firm and decisive action," the senior cop noted.
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