‘Drastic action’

LUCEA, Hanover — Determined to quash a flare-up of crime, the police charged with protecting residents of this parish have vowed to take “drastic action”.

The promise has also come with an appeal to residents “not to cry but to support the police” when these measures are implemented.

“I am not really happy and proud to be reporting here today because this situation is really not looking good. But we have to work together to fix the issues that we are having,” appealed head of the Hanover Police Division, Superintendent Sharon Beeput.

She was addressing the monthly general meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation on Thursday.

According to data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, between January 1 and April 30 Hanover has seen a 40 per cent jump in murders when compared to the previous year. Twenty-one murders were committed this year in comparison to 15 the previous year.

Despite the surge, shootings were down 50 per cent: seven were committed this year in comparison to twice that number last year.

Nine people were injured this year in comparison to 17 in the previous year.

“It is never good for me to report on situations such as murders because that is something that we don’t want to hear about. But it is actually happening and we have to take some drastic action… When drastic actions are taken, I don’t want you guys to be uncomfortable. I want you to work with the police because there will be actions coming,” the senior officer told the meeting of locally elected officials.

Beeput opted not to reveal details of the plans to curb crime but outlined the methods of support councillors can provide as both sides work together.

“If there are some people who you know in these communities who prefer to speak to you more than the police, let them speak to you and [you] speak to us so that we can hear and help with the different activities,” she beseeched.

There has recently been an upsurge in murders within the communities of Hopewell, Cauldwell and Green Island and it has been a challenge for lawmen with their limited resources to respond effectively.

Mayor of Lucea Councillor Sheridan Samuels (People’s National Party) told the meeting that it appears hoodlums in his Cauldwell Division are competing to see who can commit the most murders. Hanover, he said, is at a crossroads.

“I am so embarrassed and feel ashamed to know that one of the safest divisions in the parish itself, the Cauldwell Division, is leading now and I am losing my title of having a safe division… It is like a competition going on down here. It is really shameful and disgraceful to see how these people are going around killing each other,” he stated.

Deputy Mayor of Lucea Andria Dehaney Grant suggested that more resources be provided for the security forces within the parish.

Beeput assured her that was on the cards.

Councillor Easton Edwards (Jamaica Labour Party, Lucea Division) said he is currently working on leading a closed-circuit television (CCTV) drive in Lucea. He said the aim is to have road-facing cameras of the business community and the municipal corporation connected to Jamaica Eye.

“Camera plays an important part in fighting crime. We can’t see everywhere but I’m sure when we have cameras everywhere, then I am certain people will think twice before repeating the cycle of doing what they do,” stated Edwards.

His idea was supported by Samuels and Dehaney Grant.

The deputy mayor, who is an educator, also made the point that there is a need for systems to be put in place to get children and parents to understand the value of life.

“Being somebody who has been in the system for over 30 years, I have seen the worst in terms of students’ behaviour and attitude. I am seeing us going in a bad direction if it is that we don’t correct it,” Dehaney Grant said.