‘Pandemic of… violence a public health matter’, says commish Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

In branding the state of interpersonal violence locally as a pandemic, Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, has declared that the situation is also indicative of a public health matter because so many persons are being affected.

Anderson, in pointing to recent incidents of violence in schools, said children are among those being affected by the perceived pandemic.

“The pandemic of interpersonal violence is a public health matter and is infecting and affecting several demographics in our society, including our children,” he posited.

“We must teach our children to deal with these conflicts,” said Anderson at a recent police press conference in St Andrew

Since the ending of the COVID-19 protocols and the return to face-to-face classes in schools, the commissioner said the constabulary has taken note of some violent encounters in schools that have become the subject of viral videos.

Among those videos were the moments before and after 16-year-old Kingston Technical High School student, Michion Campbell, was stabbed by a 17-year-old schoolmate of hers.

The latter child has since been charged with murder, and she will remain in police custody until at least November 9.

“We also recall the national conversation in March this year when a student in Trelawny was stabbed to death by another student during a dispute over a ‘guard ring’,” Anderson recounted.

The victim in that incident was 16-year-old Kamal Hall, a fifth form student of William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny, who was allegedly killed by another male student after he accused Kamal of stealing his guard ring, something which is usually used by criminals as a perceived form of protection.

Anderson said: “These encounters have been the source of discussions in various quarters, but for us (the police), we have not only been intervening in, but also seeking to prevent these acts of violence.”

He said since the start of the last academic year in schools, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), through its Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB), has deployed 245 school resource officers (SROs) in institutions that were identified as potential flash points under the Safe Schools Programme.

“However, this once again underscores a problem that I have sought to shed light on many times; the problem of our culture of violence in the resolution of interpersonal conflicts.

“Over 15 per cent of the murders committed so far this year are attributed to poorly managed interpersonal conflicts,” said Anderson.

He outlined two such violent interpersonal incidents that resulted in deaths.

One was the murder of 52-year-old female pastor, Michelle Roache, who was reportedly stabbed to death by her brother in Content Gardens, Ocho Rios, St Ann on Monday night.

An argument over the lack of electrical supply to Roache’s portion of a house she shared with her brother reportedly led to her death.

“In Port Royal in Kingston East on Tuesday morning, a 41-year-old fisherman was mowed down with a vehicle during another dispute,” outlined Anderson, who repeated his call for better conflict resolution strategies.

The motorist who was involved in the Port Royal incident has since been detained in relation to that matter.