Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington, has announced a series of multi-pronged anti-crime strategies, which come into effect today (July 22), following the expiration of the State of Public Emergency in Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine.
Among the strategies, Mr. Ellington outlined, are: the mounting of curfews in at least five targeted areas, beginning tonight (July 22), and cordon and search operations, which will be mounted on a “continuous basis” in several areas where criminals have been located.
Cabinet initially ordered the state of emergency for Kingston and St. Andrew on May 23, for 30 days, following the unrest in West Kingston. It was subsequently extended by Parliament for an additional 30 days, and expanded to incorporate
Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington (right), engages Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders (centre), and Colonel General Staff of the JDF, Colonel Rocky Meade, in discussion, following today’s (July 22) media briefing at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) headquarters, on Old Hold Road, in St. Andrew.
St. Catherine. A further 30 day extension was sought by the administration in Parliament on July 20, through a Resolution, but this was denied as the 31 votes required to carry the motion were not possible, as six of the Government Members of Parliament were absent and the Opposition members abstained.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) headquarters, on Old Hope Road, in St. Andrew, Mr. Ellington said failure to secure the extension and the attendant provisions, which the security forces “relied on substantially” for the success of their operations, posed serious implications for their anti-crime thrust.
These provisions, he outlined, include: forward deployment of members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to areas assessed and deemed to have security risk elements grave enough to exceed law enforcement capacity; cordon and searches of premises without need for warrants; and detention of persons of interest without judicial challenge. In light of this, the Commissioner said it is necessary to implement alternative strategies and intensify those already in operation, in the areas previously under the curfew, and other areas of the country.
The Commissioner said the police will also intensify their road operations, in the form of traffic enforcement, road blocks and vehicle check points, in an effort to disrupt the movement of mobile armed criminals.
“The intelligence and the evidence which we have garnered through our series of operations clearly indicate that many of these individuals are on the move. They are moving from community to community as the security forces move at them. Many hardened criminals are caught in traffic stops, and one of the things that we are determined to do, is to ensure that criminals do not feel that they have the freedom of movement around the country, escaping from law enforcement or moving in directions where they commit serious crimes,” he said, pointing out that intensified police visibility would complement their counter-gang activities.
Mr. Ellington informed that inter-agency operations, involving stakeholders, such as the Financial Investigation Division (FID), Customs Department and Revenue Department, will be expanded. He pointed to the successes which these have yielded in recent weeks, resulting in the seizure of several containers of contraband and the arrest of key individuals linked to drug trafficking and money laundering, following investigations.
Intensification and expansion of the JCF’s recently established street crime units will also be effected across all geographic divisions, Mr. Ellington informed, pointing out that this will be spearheaded by the Flying Squad in Kingston and St. Andrew, under the leadership of Superintendent Cornwall ‘Bigga’ Ford. These units, he explained, will be tasked to move decisively and aggressively on all activities involving crimes for profit.
The Commissioner said community policing efforts will also continue, pointing out that this initiative will be rolled out as the security forces move in to demolish gangs and establish normal conditions for this undertaking. He cited Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Matthews Lane and the downtown Kingston market district as examples of areas where this is occurring.
“If we can achieve that there, it is clearly evident to all of us that we can achieve it right across Jamaica. Let me also make it clear that we never anticipated that the state of emergency would be a permanent feature of crime and security operations in Jamaica. The Chief of Defence Staff of the JDF and myself had given instructions to our senior officers to begin to plan our exit strategy out of the state of emergency. What has occurred now is that we will have to fast track this planning. They come with difficulties, but we are prepared to meet the challenges,” he said.
Commissioner Ellington expressed gratitude to the security forces for the professional manner in which they have operated, and to members of the society for their support.