WILLIAMSFIELD, St Elizabeth — Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western Floyd Green is calling for more operational support for police here even as recent incidents of crime have left residents and himself concerned.
“I think we also need external resources from the region to do specified operations where they come in and try to find the people who are causing the challenges. I don’t believe that a lot of people are involved in criminality in and around the parish, so I think the police should be able with the help of citizens to find the persons [criminals],” Green told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.
His comments follow two recent murders in Williamsfield and Brucefield, both in his constituency.
In the latest incident a mechanic, Shanji Foster, 34, otherwise called “Shampoo”, was shot dead by a gunman at a shop on Monday night in the Williamsfield area.
A police report said about 9:30 pm, Foster was at the shop when a gunman pounced from the side of the building and fired one shot, hitting him. The injured man was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On November 20 a construction worker, Craig Ebanks, 42, was shot dead in Brucefield near Barbary Hall (adjoining Williamsfield).
A police report said about 2:30 am, Ebanks was found suffering from gunshot wounds in a white Honda CRV motor car with the engine running on a roadway in the area.
Efforts to get an update on the incidents from the St Elizabeth police were unsuccessful up to mid-afternoon Wednesday.
Green said the occurrences are alarming.
“We are very concerned about the increase in murders in the area. We are not used to these sort of violent incidents and we want to ensure that this does not become a regular occurrence in our neck of the woods. St Elizabeth has always been a very safe parish and this side has always been very safe as well,” he said.
Green added that he has been in contact with the police to give support and lobby for more security operations in the area.
“I have had discussions with the superintendent [Kenneth Chin] in relation to increased presence in and around the area and more operations [and] for greater support from the high command,” he said.
“It is very important that people who have information share it with the police; we have kept St Elizabeth safe over the years by people being willing to tell the police what they know,” he added.
When asked if he is concerned about a personnel shortage affecting the St Elizabeth police, Green said he believes the issue will be resolved.
“I definitely believe that we need more boots on the ground, and my expectation is that out of the last set of graduates, as a number of them would come to St Elizabeth. Clearly, steps have been taken to reopen a training centre in St Elizabeth, so there is an expectation that [we] will get additional boots on the ground,” he said.
Superintendent Chin told the recent sitting of the local municipality that “for the Yuletide season despite decreased resources, with about 30 less police than we had last year at this time, and we have more crime, so that’s a part of our challenge going into the Yuletide season”.
Pressed as to the possible reasons for the decreased personnel numbers, Chin identified “retirement, resignations and medical reasons” as major factors.