Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has declared a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) for southern Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland.
The security measure, which will be in place for 60 days, includes Russia, Dalling Street and Dexter Street.
Personnel from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) have been deployed to the areas.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Sunday (Jan. 16), the Prime Minister said that the crime fighting tool aims to address rampant criminality, save lives, and protect communities.
“The Zone of Special Operations will displace the criminals and disrupt their pattern of terror,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that in addition to the security element, the ZOSO “has a heavy community intervention, social intervention and community building component, which must be properly organised and planned.”
The Prime Minister pledged the Government’s commitment to tackling crime and strengthening the country’s security architecture within the ambit of the law.
“You cannot fight crime with terror and barbarity. We will pursue criminals, we will overcome this terror, we will do it within the law. The people of Jamaica will see that their police force is there to protect them; they are law officers, and we will always act within the law.
“The path that we are on, in terms of resourcing our police, changing our laws, and using exceptional powers without taking lives, is the right path, if we are going to build a kinder and gentler society. It will not be an easy path and it may not be immediate, but it will lead us to the goal of peace which we all want to achieve,” he said.
Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, noted that there was a spike in murders in Westmoreland in 2021, due to gang violence, which has continued into the new year.
“For 2021, Westmoreland accounted for 128 murders, an increase of 60 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2020, which is the fourth highest number of murders recorded among all police divisions. These were mainly due to violent gang conflicts…This year has started off in a similar way in the parish and so we are responding accordingly,” he said.
The boundaries of the ZOSO are North – beginning at the Northern end of Seaton Crescent in the vicinity of the mangrove on the eastern side of Gooden’s River and extending in an easterly direction along Seaton Crescent.
It continues north to Murray Street, then south on to Great George Street to the intersection with Rose Street; then northeasterly along Rose Street to the Segree Street intersection with Hudson Street.
To the East, the boundary extends southerly from the intersection of Segree Street and Hudson Street and continues along Hudson Street then along the water feature to the east of Hudson Street to the shoreline.
To the South, the boundary continues in a westerly direction along the shoreline from where the water feature terminates, to the mouth of Gooden’s River.
To the West, the boundary extends in a northerly direction from the mouth of the Gooden’s River to the northern end of Seaton Crescent in the vicinity of the mangrove on the Eastern side of Gooden’s River.
The communities in southern Savanna-la-Mar form the island’s seventh ZOSO, with the others established in Parade Gardens, Central Kingston; Denham Town, West Kingston; Norwood and Mount Salem, St James; and Greenwich Town and August Town, St. Andrew.
Under The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, an area can be declared a ZOSO once there is rampant criminality, gang warfare, escalating violence and murder, and a threat to the rule of law.
The law allows for measures to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives in areas where the operation is being undertaken.
An area can be declared a ZOSO by the Prime Minister after being advised in writing by the Chief of Defence Staff and Commissioner of Police.