JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The House of Representatives, on Tuesday (February 4), approved the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) for the Eastern Kingston Police Division until April 25.
  • The enhanced security measure was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on January 26.
  • In his remarks, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the declaration of the SOE was to address increasing criminal activity, including gang conflicts and murders.

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday (February 4), approved the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) for the Eastern Kingston Police Division until April 25.

The enhanced security measure was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on January 26.

In his remarks, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the declaration of the SOE was to address increasing criminal activity, including gang conflicts and murders.

He noted that 11 murders were reported from the start of the year up to January 29, representing a 175 per cent increase over the four murders for the same period in 2019.

Overall, category-one crimes were up by 26 per cent as at January 29, with 24 incidents recorded compared to 19 over the same period last year. These include murder, shooting, rape, robbery, larceny, and aggravated assault.

The National Security Minister said the imposition of the SOE will empower the security forces with extraordinary measures to protect citizens through a suite of strategic and targeted operations.

“In doing so, through deliberate planning, the strategy within the Division will seek to bring the high levels of crime under control,” he noted.

Dr. Chang told the House that “since the declaration of the SOE, just under five days as at January 29, there have been no major crimes recorded within the Division”. In addition, he said that the security forces have recovered one M16 rifle and more than 100 offensive weapons, which were mainly discarded in public passenger vehicles.

A total of 90 persons were taken into custody, of which 13 were detained and 77 released after processing.

Dr. Chang further reported that a major housing project, which was suspended in September 2019 due to an outbreak of gang violence, is now set to restart given the additional security presence in the area.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, expressed appreciation for the SOE.

“For months now, particularly along the Bull Bay stretch and for many of the residents in Harbour View, they have been asking for an intervention. I appreciate that the SOE has already made a difference in terms of the behaviour of our constituents and in terms of the crime level in the area,” she said.

Member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal, Phillip Paulwell, as well as Member of Parliament for South East St. Andrew, Julian Robinson, also expressed support for the extension of the SOE.