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Custos of St. James, Bishop the Hon. Conrad Pitkin, says that the recent declaration of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in seven police divisions to curtail crime was a necessary move by the Government.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who made the announcement on November 14 during a virtual press conference, said that the SOEs have been declared in St. Andrew South, Kingston West, Kingston Central, and Kingston East in the Corporate Area, and St. James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.

Speaking with JIS News, Bishop Pitkin stated that the increase in murders made it necessary to declare the SOEs.

“The Government has no option at this point than to establish the SOE. I believe that it has to be a short-term measure while other measures are put in place… there must be other measures [employed] by the security forces than just SOEs,”  he said.

Meanwhile, residents of Western Jamaica are welcoming the SOEs put in place by the Government as a necessary step in combatting the increase in crime in the region.

A Mount Salem, St. James resident, Naomi Brown, told JIS News, “I think the idea of the SOE is a good thing because the crime rate has significantly increased, [especially] in the past month”.

She added, however, that as part of the SOE she would like to see an increase of police presence in her community.

Nemonie Cassells, also of St. James, told JIS News that the increase in crime has necessitated this type of intervention.

“I recently learnt of a 10-year-old girl getting shot in the head in Montego Bay, and it is very sad that this is where we are at with this level of violence. If you have a child and you are with your child and [they] get shot…… [this is saying] it’s not safe, so I do understand the need for it (SOE),” she said.

“Even though it is not looking good for the island on a whole, some form of control must be maintained. Some evidence that the Government is seeing what is happening in the country when it comes to crime and violence [was needed], and this is a way to show that [they] have noticed that there has been an increase in the crime level in the country and [they] needed to do something to lessen the chance that someone gets hurt. So, I have to say that I understand and I see the need for [the SOE],” Ms. Cassells emphasised.

Damien Parkes of Grange Hill in Westmoreland also agreed that the SOE is a great measure. However, he told JIS News it should not be permanent.

“I truly think that the SOE is a good idea, because the crime has been getting ridiculous, there has been a ridiculous number of violent [acts] and a ridiculous atmosphere of lawlessness [so] I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

“What I would like to see, though, is an increase in police presence. Also, we need a long-term crime plan [and] more social intervention programmes, but the SOE will do for now,” Mr. Parkes expressed.

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