This week’s featured development as Newsmaker of the Week just ended are the murders of two members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) locally within less than a week.
Jamaica’s spiralling murder wave continues to grip the island, leaving families drowning in grief as gunmen continue their onslaught, including now claiming the lives of two policemen in quick succession.
The lawmen have been identified as 22-year-old Constable Brian Martin, who was shot dead by gunmen on Saturday, October 15; and 43-year-old Corporal Oliver Mullings, who was slain by hoodlums on Thursday, October 20.
The latest crime statistics have revealed the murder of some 1,247 Jamaicans across the country up to Tuesday, October 18, an 8.2 per cent increase when compared to the 1,152 persons who were killed over the corresponding period last year.
Major crimes are up by 4.3 per cent between January 1 and October 18. A total of 4,059 incidents were reported this year, compared to 3,892 last year.
With those staggering statistics and the intensity of the bloodshed over the week just ended, some citizens are growing desperate for an effective crime-fighting strategy from those in charge of the country’s affairs.
So far, the JCF has put forward Operation Relentless II as its latest crime-fighting initiative, while the Government has crafted a new Firearms Act and a new Bail Act, the latter being at the Bill stage, to dent the brazen collective attack on thstate by criminals.
Amid it all, the hoodlums turned their weapons on members of the JCF in less than a week, leaving a constable and a corporal dead, and the constabulary in mourning.
In the latest attack on Thursday night, Corporal Mullings, who was assigned to the Kingston Western Police Division, was killed by gunmen in Trench Town, St Andrew.
Reports from the police are that at about 10:45 pm, the corporal was among a team of officers who responded to a call from residents in the area after gunmen were spotted there.
The law enforcers ended up being attacked by the gunmen.
Mullings was reportedly injured during a shootout with the criminals.
He was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Another man, reported to have been one of the gunmen, was also killed in the incident, and an illegal firearm was seized.
Days before the corporal’s death, 22-year-old Constable Brian Martin of the St Andrew Central Police Division died after being shot at a wake in the Maxfield Avenue area, also in St Andrew.
Constable Brian Martin
Four other persons, including a 10-year-old, were shot and injured in the attack that took place at around 10pm.
It was reported that Martin was among a group of persons at a wake in the community, when armed men approached the group and opened gunfire.
Law enforcers were summoned and Constable Martin and four other persons were taken to hospital, where the cop died while being treated, and the other injured persons were admitted in stable conditions.
The police have since indicated that it is unlikely that Martin was the target of the attack at the wake. Rather, it was possibly a case of him being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the shooting likely arose from gang conflict in the area.
Elder relatives of the constable reflected on his focus as a youth that led him to join the constabulary.
“This yah world yah want God intervention, because we the innocent a feel it,” wailed a female relative of the cop last Sunday.
“Crime out a hand now… Jamaica want prayer warriors,” she added.
Martin’s aunt, Natalie Hamilton, said he was determined to escape poverty and provide for his family.
She explained that she felt good that Martin was joining the constabulary because “at least we a seh somebody auhhold up dem head.
“Maybe a dis now fi we come out a poverty. We never have no problem when him a go inna the force, because we know say him ambitious from long time, and him is a person where him ago get weh him want,” Hamilton reflected.
Martin was from Ricketts Avenue in St Andrew.
The Police High Command has since condemned the killings of both policemen, and has also expressed condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of both men.
“The JCF is committed to conducting a thorough investigation and to apprehend the persons responsible for his death,” the high command said in a release on Friday.
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, joined Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of the crime and security portfolio, Fitz Bailey, and other senior police officers on a visit to Martin’s mother on Thursday.
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang (centre), speaks with journalists at the Denham Town Police Station in Western Kingston following the shooting death of Corporal Oliver Mullings on October 20. Chang is flanked by Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey (left) and Assistant Chaplain, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Kevin A White. (Photo: JIS)
The force chaplain and the divisional community safety team were also on hand to provide support to the family in their time of difficulty, as well as similar support being given to the love ones and colleagues of Corporal Mullings.
Human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), joined the JCF in condemning the murders of the two policemen, and urged citizens to provide the police with any information that could lead to the arrests of the perpetrators.
Likewise, Jamaicans on social media condemned the killings of the two police officers and called on thesState to enforce tougher measures to address what they largely describe as the spiralling crime rate locally.
Some users, too, reflected on the character traits of each lawman.
One such Facebook user, Taveres JZ, said Corporal Mullings served the JCF with great integrity.
“If you know this man, you know how serious he takes his job. He wanted to make Jamaica a safer place. He served with integrity. This man is always smiling and very humble, and a true believer in God. Jamaica has lost a hero,” the Facebook user posted.
Another user, Karen Archer, wrote: “This is unacceptable! Lawful abiding citizens doing their jobs, people making a living trying to survive, and they are gunned down in cold blood!
“Something needs to give!! Get these guns and murderers off the street period!!. Still puzzles me though why is it so hard to do!!!” she indicated.
Questioned Sylvia Bando: “Is a trend this now begin?
“They should hunt them down and treat them accordingly. Condolences to family and friends,” she wrote.
Shane Jones said both lawmen should be commended for their service to the JCF.
“One cop last night (Thursday) and another last week, we need to honour them and I hope the JCF catch the hooligans. Jamaica gone to the dogs. Death penalty time now,” he declared.
And amid the condolences and condemnations of the two law enforcers’ killings, there were calls for Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, to step aside over his stewardship, as well as criticisms of the handling of the National Security portfolio by Chang.
“Listen, what is the (police) commissioner doing? Nice talk not cutting it anymore because see the gunmen nuh ‘fraid a police dem. Tough strategies needed now to fight man. RIP squaddies,” commented Marvalee Goodison.
Wrote Rory Charm Elliot: “Chang needs to pack up and go because him make no sense, and him can take Massa Commissioner with him to, cause him bringing no solution.”
But Jason Hughes rubbished the calls, by advising that, “No police commissioner and minister can stamp out wanton crime and criminality, because police can’t be everywhere.
“People like you make senseless calls, but not telling the police where the criminals are,” he suggested.
Tasha Butler shared: “I’m waiting on the island-wide protests for the killing of Mullo (Oliver Mullings) and the young squaddie.
“Thank you both for the service you gave to Jamaica. RIP,” she stated.