Mixed results

THE man in charge of the country’s crime portfolio, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Fitz Bailey, has chalked up the decrease in major crimes across several police divisions for 2022 to “police strategy” and sheer hard work by members of the security forces.

According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF’s) Serious Crimes Report for January 1 to December 31, 2022, several police divisions recorded declines of 30 per cent in felonies over the comparative period in 2021. At the same time, some divisions recorded increases in crime over the comparative period.

Among the divisions with lower incidents were several in Kingston, known for brutal killings and criminal activities.

“It’s just the policing strategy that we have deployed, to put it bluntly, that created that level of decrease. If you look at the beginning of the year you saw where [crime figures] were running away and we constantly, from an organisation level, at the strategic and operational level, sat down and looked at the strategies and implemented varying types of initiatives. There was additional deployment as well in terms of manpower that assisted with that decline,” DCP Bailey told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

The crime fighter, who refrained from delving into details which he said will be shared by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson soon, noted that the enhanced security measures which were unveiled in several divisions also contributed.

“We have ZOSOs (zones of special operations) in August Town, Kingston Central, and St Andrew South, so those also are some of the tools that were used,” DCP Bailey said.

According to the JCF’s figures, the Kingston Central Police Division, which is home to communities like Parade Gardens and Allman Town, recorded 206 crimes for 2021 but 155 in 2022 — a 25 per cent drop. The division saw 79 murders in 2021 and 48 in 2022, a 39 per cent decline.

The Kingston East Police Division saw 247 crimes in 2021 and 208 in 2022, a 16 per cent fall-off. As it relates to murders, the division recorded 92 in 2021 compared to 79 in 2022 — a 14 per cent decrease.

Meanwhile, the usually troubled Kingston West Police Division, which recorded 273 crimes in 2021, saw 185 in 2022 — a 35 per cent drop. The area which had seen 109 murders in 2021 recorded 76 in 2022.

Head of the division, Senior Superintendent Michael Phipps, told the Observer that the results were a reflection of the work done by the police in that area.

“Of course it must be as a result of the hard work by the men and women of the division where we employed a number of strategies in order to curtail and cauterise, especially murders and shootings. And this, I think, paid significant dividends and we are happy for the reduction that we are seeing,” he told the Observer on Monday.

“At the start of the year we identified a number of strategies that we could employ. This was put into our policing plan and we basically worked toward the plan — and this is the result that we are seeing. We had a long-standing issue of murders and shootings, and we did some things which, I think, worked to the benefit of the division in terms of the crime and violence,” he noted.

In the meantime, he said going into the new year the police will maintain the ground gained so far.

“Critical to the strategies will be the targeting of the gangs, doing some interventions and working with the communities to identify the issues that give rise to crime, and identifying some solutions with the community, hoping to get a buy-in from them,” the divisional head stated.

He noted that the police in his divison are still searching for a number of criminals who have eluded them so far.

“Once there is a state of emergency they tend to flee the community, so we are trying to do what we call a displacement strategy to know where they are when they are displaced from the areas that we know them to frequent,” he told the Observer.

In the meantime, communities in the St Andrew South Police Division, which saw 453 crimes in 2021, recorded 389 last year — a 14 per cent decrease according to the JCF’s figures. However, the St Andrew Central Police Division, which recorded 237 crimes in 2021, saw 264 last year, an 11 per cent increase. Similarly, St Andrew North, which saw 236 major crimes in 2021, experienced 258 last year, a nine per cent increase.

Other police divisions such as St Catherine North saw minimal increases in crimes, with that division experiencing 390 crimes in 2021 as against 391 last year. The St Catherine South division recorded 382 major crimes for 2021 and 405 last year, a six per cent increase.

Portland recorded a 30 per cent drop in crimes last year while the parish of St James was up 15 per cent.

Overall, the island saw 4,970 serious crimes last year as against 4,898 in 2021, a one per cent increase. Included in that total were 1,498 murders last year, compared to 1,474 in 2021 — a two per cent increase.

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