WHILE most of those interviewed welcomed the announcement that there will be states of public emergency in three western parishes, some have urged the Government to find new ways to tackle crime and get to the underlying issues. The concern has also been raised that, if the SOE fails, what will be the next move. Here are some of their comments:
Oneil “Blacks” Scott
Jerk vendor, Dalling Street, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland
He has no problem with the SOE but believes more targeted searches need to be a part of the initiative. He thinks it will not completely curb crime in his parish but he has hope as he has seen where the zones of special operations have been effective.
“Yeah man, too much loose car a guh through, dem fi search more. Dat a my view. It can slow down certain tings. But dem need more house-to-house searching. It would…more effective.”
Lloyd Lawson, Westmoreland resident
He says the killing gets worse with each passing day and he doesn’t think things will get better. However, he welcomed the SOEs. Divine intervention is needed, he said.
“Only God can stop dis, to wha a guh dung ya right ya now. A pure killing a gwaan.”
Yanique, Petersfield in Westmoreland
“I don’t really have any recommendations as to how to tackle crime so I’m not trying to judge them. But me just feel say a eediat alone use di same method fi get different results. We have used states of emergency multiple times and it nah work, so why is it that they continue to use the same method to tackle it?
“I guess I can commend them for trying, but try suppen else.
“Both [political] parties need to come together, instead of fighting each other, because dem intelligent. Use oonuh brain fi tackle crime because it will benefit the entire country.”
Richard Wallace, hotelier and president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce
He doesn’t expect any major fallout in the tourism sector as the market is used to and understands SOEs within the Jamaican context.
“I’m not objecting to the Government using this. I think it’s a necessary thing that we have to do, based on our situation. So I support them doing it. But… it has repercussions, obviously. What we have to calculate is: are the repercussions worth it. And I think they are. To get our murder rate down, definitely; it’s worth it.”
Custos of Westmoreland, Rev Hartley Perrin
He believes SOEs can be effective if they are not used for an extended period of time that will make them lose their shock value. He is convinced that the measure can be effective if there are enough resources available.
“The crime levels are high. And if this is what the Government feels they can do to reduce the levels, especially with the Christmas coming up, then we have to welcome it.
“I suspect that they will extend it after the 14 days because we would hope to see a measure of security during the Christmas season so we can have our Grand Market and people would feel a sense of safety.
“We will hope that they will put more soldiers in place as far as possible, so that the effectiveness can be realised and seen. The question is if this fails, what next? But we can’t know it’s going to fail until we try. When we try we can only hope they will be successful.”
President of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, Moses Chybar
He anticipates that the entertainment sector and other commerce that takes place at night will be most affected. While he made it clear that the Chamber supports the SOEs, he urged the Government to do more.
“We regret that a state of emergency is imposed again, and it will have negative impacts. But on the flip side, we are hopeful that it will result in lives being saved. [However], the state of emergency in itself is not a solution. It just gives a temporary reprieve. The Government will have to continue to search to find solutions to fix the underlying problem, the driving force behind all of this.
“We will support whatever it is that is being done in the efforts to contain the situation and we are hopeful that there won’t be a need to extend it beyond the stipulated time.”
St James businessman Trevor Burnett Jr
He operates Greenwood Plaza and is also a developer. He is worried about how crime and violence impacts his employees and so he supports the SOE.
“I welcome the move, however, what I would want to see is stricter penalties being given to criminals, in particular longer jail times, to prevent them doing these crimes so that we have to take on these wholesale measures.”
Kerry Reid, manager, Foto Shoppe photo studio, Montego Bay
She supports the SOEs but believes success requires the support of both sides of the political fence.
“I think that one of the reason that it’s not effective is because each time it’s implemented, there is a lack of cohesion between the two parties. If both work together, I think something can come out of it.”
Radcliffe McGilverly, 76-year-old vendor
He hopes the SOE will mean a return to the good old days when he and his friends were not constantly afraid.
“I welcome it man, anything that go stop the crime mi go for it. Tonight you see a man and tomorrow you hear say him dead. Crime rough inno man. You know you deh ya and you want ga beach and can’t go.”
– Observer writers