Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of Area One, Devon Watkis, says that the police has made significant inroads in dismantling gangs over the last two years, with a number of persons arrested and convicted before the courts.
Addressing a Think Tank hosted by the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Montego Bay Regional Office on Wednesday (June 27), ACP Watkis said the number of gangs operating in the division, which comprises Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, are far less than two years ago.
He said that as recent as three weeks ago, one member of a particular gang was convicted in the Western Gun Court and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In addition, he said that about 12 members of the ‘Bobo Gang’ operating in Westmoreland are now in custody awaiting trial.
“We have set out to target these individuals and to arrest them with evidence, because we think…that if we can sufficiently investigate and gather the evidence to convict these persons, it is the best message to send to the youth that gang activity is not something that you should aspire to be a part of,” he stated.
ACP Watkis said that despite the gains, there will be no let-up on anti-gang activity in the parishes. He said that the focus on dismantling gangs is also a key part of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) anti-crime mandate.
He expressed the hope that legislation to support the work of the police in the dismantling of gangs will come into being soon.
“We have a national anti-gang team, and their specific role is to target the top tier gangs and to look at their assets, firearm used, and collect the evidence utilizing all the technologies available so that if and when the gang legislation is enforced, we can look at those persons and rid our area of them,” he stated.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter