Sunday 20 October, 2019

Gang violence, lawlessness prompted new state of emergency – Anderson

Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson
(file photo)

Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson (file photo)

Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, has said the communities now under a state of emergency in Kingston and St Andrew “have for some time been exposed to gang violence, significant extortion and general lawlessness”.

He added that, “These communities historically have been victim to these kinds of activities and it’s impacted the livelihood and safety of both residents and persons who are traversing these areas.”

Anderson made the statements at a press conference that was called on Sunday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to announce that a state of emergency had been imposed in the Kingston Western, Kingston Central and St Andrew South police divisions, to combat rampant criminality.

According to Major Anderson, “incidents of shootings and other illicit activities are used by gangs and other criminals to fund their activities, creating an environment of fear and insecurity in these communities.”

He said further that, “Specifically, there have been incidents where criminals have used high-powered weapons to carry out killings and reprisals against other gangs, often impacting innocent citizens. People are either shot or killed or extorted daily in these communities.”

State of emergency in capital city

He said the key operational objective of the security forces are to “disrupt the activities of these criminals, regularise the security environment, and ensure the restoration of peace and the rule of law, thereby securing the right to life and also the freedom of residents to go about their business peacefully.”

The commissioner said, “The security forces will continue to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of the people we are sworn to protect, and that includes also the persons who we are in conflict with.”

National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang. (file photo)

For his part, National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, sought to assure that the security forces have been given the required resources to deal with all three police divisions now under a state of emergency.

Chang noted that more than 600 recruits have joined the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) this year, with an additional 200 set to join in November.

He said the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has been “recruiting heavily through the National Service Corp, and new vehicles have been provided, with more to come this year.

The security minister also expressed confidence in the command structure that is in place within both organisations, which he said will ensure the efficient co-ordination of activities in the three police divisions.

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