SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — This parish’s top cop is attributing last year’s sharp drop in murders in southern Savanna-la-Mar to the effectiveness of a zone of special operation (ZOSO) rolled out at the start of the year.
“In 2021 there were 15 murders in that space and I must tell you that we ended the year  with one single murder in the ZOSO, which is testament to the fact that the ZOSO has a positive effect on that space,” the commanding officer for Westmoreland, Senior Superintendent of Police Wayne Josephs told Thursday’s meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
“That one murder that was committed has been cleared up. Somebody was arrested and charged,” he added.
He was referring to the September slaying of 17-year-old Jayre “Jay” Francis. The teen, who lived on Ricketts Street, was shot and killed while returning home from a wake.
Police reported that residents heard explosions about 3:00 am and Francis’ gunshot-riddled body was found at 5:20 am. There were multiple wounds to his head and body. He also had lacerations to his neck.
While that was the only killing in the area declared a ZOSO, 2022 was a bloody year for the rest of Westmoreland. There were 140 murders, 12 more than the 128 seen the year before. SSP Josephs said the investigation team managed to clear up 51 per cent of these killings.
“Seventy-nine of the murders that were committed were cleared up, so I believe that is very commendable and by international standards we are doing excellent,” he said.
Westmoreland had the third highest number of murders in 2022. St James recorded the most murders, at 198, followed by St Catherine’s North Police Division with 145 murders.
On a positive note, Westmoreland saw a decrease in shootings which crept down by four to end the year at 121. SSP Joseph attributes the decline to strategies that were implemented within the police division.
There was an even bigger drop in shootings in the area designated a ZOSO, a 50 per cent decrease in the 10 seen in 2021.
Close to 1,500 Jamaicans were murdered across the country last year.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force said 1,498 people were killed between January 1 and December 31, 2022. That is 24 more murders, when compared to the corresponding period in 2021.