JIS News

Story Highlights

  • SSP Anthony Castell, has come in for high praise for transforming the Gravel Heights community.
  • The community was some two years ago plunged into chaos after multiple gang-related killings and mass exodus by residents from the area.
  • Under SSP Castell leadership the St. Catherine North division, over the last two years, has experienced over 40 per cent drop in murders.

Head of the St. Catherine North Police Division, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Anthony Castell, has come in for high praise from Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, for transforming the Gravel Heights community, and achieving a significant reduction in crime.

The community was some two years ago plunged into chaos after multiple gang-related killings and mass exodus by residents from the area.

“Tony Castell was a one man social intervention project in Gravel Heights, without the support of anybody, initially,” the Minister said at a function held on Tuesday (November 26) in March Pen, Spanish Town.

“He was determined, and established a police post, he took the Mobile Reserve frontend loader and cut a road, he got NWC (National Water Commission) to formalize a waterline, JPS (Jamaica Public Service), has also formalized some of the power lines in there.

“Today, a community that probably 60 per cent of the residents had abandoned in fear, and where we were having murders weekly…is now responding, growing and thriving. I hear it is going to cost you a lot of money to buy a piece of land or house in there,” the Minister said.

He informed that under SSP Castell leadership the St. Catherine North division, over the last two years, has experienced over 40 per cent drop in murders.

Director for Crime Prevention and Community Safety at the Ministry, Courtney Brown, noted that the strategy of the police worked in Gravel Heights, because the “gang members were driven out and a sense of safety and security was restored, with the fear of becoming a victim reduced”.

“Community members who left returned, social services were returned, school attendance improved and there is now regular interface between residents and their police, a process described by Commissioner Owen Ellington as the most ‘positively impactful community-policing measure applied to traditional hotspots,” Mr. Brown told the gathering.

Meanwhile, Councillor for the Lauriston Division, Keisha Lewis, said the interventions “are strong”.

“The residents are comforted knowing that they have a certain level of security in this area,” she said, noting that the community of Tredegar Park is also benefitting from the interventions.

“The communities have experienced high level of crimes, but we can report that the incidents have been far reduced, it is an almost incident-free community,” she stated.