With western Jamaica contributing significantly to the island’s overall murder statistics, the police will be boosting its quick response teams in that area to disrupt the bloodshed and mayhem being caused by criminals engaged in lotto scamming, as well youngsters being employed as hitmen.
The disclosure was made by Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson at the police’s monthly press conference.
He revealed that despite murders increasing by 6.3 per cent between January 1 and May 31, major crimes across the island are down by 0.8 per cent when compared to the corresponding period in 2021.
With western Jamaica being factored significantly for violent conflicts this year, the commissioner pointed out that attention and focus will be placed in that end of the island, possibly resulting in the overall murder figures trending downwards by later this month.
“For the most part, the violence we are seeing in the west is isolated to specific groups of gangsters who have access to expensive high-powered weapons, engaging in killings, reprisals and counter-reprisals,” Anderson said.
“On the other hand, in places like St Mary, murder is up, but when we examine the attribution, we are seeing a significant number of inter-personal conflicts, representing over 50 per cent of all murders [there],” he added.
Nationally, the commissioner noted that one of the factors that is driving murders in Jamaica stems from young men with access to guns, collecting money from people to commit killings.
“While this is not new, we have more young men with access to ill-gotten gains from scamming activities, they now have high-powered weapons and ammunition, and are more than willing to kill people,” disclosed Anderson.
He said there are instances in which persons engaged in conflicts, especially those engaged in family disputes, are approached by some of these young people offering their service to “deal with a ting for you for as little as $15,000”.
But Anderson warned that if citizens feel the need to venture this route to settle their disputes, the police force will go after them and bring them to justice.
In examining the overall murder trends, the commissioner said: “We expect that going into June we are going to be seeing a gradual downward trend, and if this continues, we should finish this quarter somewhat lower than we are now in respect to last year.”
To achieve this, Anderson said a more capable police force is being built, where improvements are being made to working environment of the police, while integrating technology, building capacity and improving our public engagement at an unprecedented rate.
In relation to the specific challenges being faced by law enforcement in western Jamaica, the commissioner said: “We have boosted our quick response team in St James and plans are well advanced to establish quick response teams in the other parishes out west.
“There are 60 members completing advanced training ahead of being deployed to Area One,” he continued.
The police’s Area One currently comprises St James, Hanover, Trelawny, and Westmoreland. The Government has indicated that this policing structure is to change soon.
Meanwhile, Anderson also pointed out that the recruitment of new police personnel is on in earnest, as the constabulary is on course to recruit 1,260 people this year, the same as last year.
This, he said, will improve the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s capabilities to fight crime over time.