Speech

Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica,
Honourable Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of National Security,
Lt. General Rocky Meade, Chief of Defence Staff
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.

The high level of violent crime being experienced in the St. Andrew South (SAS) division, particularly within the past two months, is at a scale and nature such that it greatly endangers public safety. The division has historically been one of the most violent regions in the country, with over 25 gangs currently engaged in deadly inter and intra-gang conflicts. Already since the start of 2019, the division has recorded the highest numbers of murders (94) and shootings (98) among police divisions in Jamaica. This murder figure is 33% percent greater than Clarendon’s 72 – the division with the second highest number of murders. Murders have increased by 19 percent while shooting incidents by 40% over 2018.

The gang warfare has restricted the free movement of citizens and has caused the disruption of livelihood in sections of the division. The fear that is associated with this level of violence has undermined the daily lives of these communities and the residents.

As a consequence and in consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff we requested that a state of public emergency be declared in the St Andrew South police division. As has been demonstrated through previous and current SOEs, this methodology has been very effective in reducing violent crime.  A SOE allows us to utilize our resources in a more effective manner. This is achieved while simultaneously reducing violent confrontations with the security forces.
By way of update, we have seen reductions in murders in St James, Westmoreland and Hanover of 65%,76% and 56% respectively when compared with the two months prior to the declaration of the tri-parish SOE.  Like St. James, St. Andrew South is identified as a division with a violent crime situation that calls for the implementation of a SOE.
As we continue to advance a strategy to reduce crime across all divisions utilizing several policing tools –  including a heavy emphasis on investigations and the use of technology, as well as institutional capacity building activities –  we must save the lives of our citizens and  reduce the trauma to entire families when one member is the victim of violence. As the chief indicator of an act of violence is a previous act we must break the cycle. We must stand between those who would do harm and those in danger.

 

Our objectives of the SOE in SAS therefore are to:
  • establish and maintain a period of low violent crime in volatile communities to normalize these communities and provide safety for the residents.
  • disrupt free movement of criminal gangs and weapons and deny them the opportunity to commit violent crimes, and
  •  provide the opportunity for greater investigative focus on perpetrators of violent crimes and their facilitators
 During this SOE, our priorities and areas of focus will be:
  • Intensifying anti-gang investigations
  • occupation of critical spaces controlled by criminal gangs
  • prioritization of investigation around high-risk offenders
  • enforcement of public safety and public order matters.
We seek the support and cooperation of the residents and persons doing business in or transiting the St. Andrew South Division, and indeed all Jamaicans. There may be some traffic delays and inconvenience but we ask for your patience and understanding  as we work to achieve:
  • a sustained reduction of violent crime
  • a reduced existence of risk factors (guns, gangs and dons), and
  • a sustained partnership between the security forces and the citizenry.
The public can assist
  • by contacting CRIME STOP at 311 which is, as always, completely confidential
  • by complying with the security officers at check points
  • by adhering to the curfew guidelines
  • by notifying the JCF of any breaches of professional conduct by members.
The JCF remains committed to respect for all, rule of law and being a Force for Good.
Help us to keep you safe.