MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Police here say they have deployed a raft of measures to combat an increase in robberies targeting town centres even as violence-plagued areas have been placed under curfew following an upsurge in crime.
Head of the Manchester police, Superintendent Shane McCalla said officers have commenced a 90-day anti-robbery reduction strategy since August.
“… In the towns of Mandeville and its immediate environs, Christiana, Spalding, we have implemented what I would term as a more aggressive type of policing initiatives in those places,” he said on Thursday, September 8 at the monthly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce at the Mandeville Hotel.
McCalla said the safeguarding of towns has resulted in a “balloon effect” with criminals resorting to target areas outside town centres in Manchester.
He added that the prevalence of illegal firearms has resulted in an increase in robberies and that the seizure of the weapons in Manchester is a mere “drop in the bucket to what is out there”.
McCalla said the police are targeting gang conflicts and domestic disputes involving lottery scamming.
“The issue of scamming is one of the things that I realise is very live and kicking in the parish of Manchester. A lot of it goes unnoticed, because it only comes out when you look at some of the murders that you are having. Most of these murders when you look at them, even though persons will categorise them for layman’s perspective as gang-related issues, when you look at them and you analyse them they are interpersonal domestic problems,” he said.
He added that the police need more resources including functional units.
“We have to use a lot of creative strategies. Currently our fleet on books is 44, but active in terms of what we can deploy right now is 20,” said McCalla.
He said the police have started to revive neighbourhood watches through partnerships with communities.
“… We are just asking and making a plea here that where you can assist us in getting that type of momentum back on track please help us to do it, because the criminals seize opportunities when they see the community is divided,” he said.
In the meantime, McCalla said Greenvale (near Mandeville) and surrounding areas have been placed under a 7:00 pm curfew.
“There are going to be some spots where typically law enforcement term as hot spots. My concept is to reduce the number of hot spots. However, there are certain policing strategies that we have to deploy that might be little more stringent in some communities than others,” he said.
“You would see lockdowns in some communities from 7:00 pm in the nights and then movements inside these places — parties have been completely banned — that is just part of the approach to try to slow down the occurrences and put some mitigating strategies in place,” he added.
He said the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) continues its efforts to rid itself of rogue cops.
“One of the big things in the parish is the perception of corruption among the police, but one of the comforting things that I can say — and I will say this without any fear of contradiction — is that the JCF is the only organisation that has consistently arrested and put up for prosecution their own members — a large amount. Where there are also disciplinary issues, those are also dealt with,” he said.