Saturday 6 June, 2020

Stretched! Police force under pressure as criminals turn up the heat

File photo of police officers during an operation in west Kingston.

File photo of police officers during an operation in west Kingston.

The security forces are at present stretched to the limit in their bid to contain the high murder rate and beat back the criminal element, according to crime fighters.

“We are under pressure. We do not have enough people to do the work, not enough vehicles to patrol and the hours are long. Morale among most of us in the force is low," a rank and file police officer, who works in the Corporate Area, told Loop News. He wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

His colleague added that the problem has been exacerbated with the anticipated increase in criminal activity during the Christmas season.

"Now that Christmas is coming, we know, as police, that the thieves are out in the numbers so our job gets that much harder," said the police sergeant who also works in the Corporate Area.

"We are, however, dedicated to doing our best even though it gets frustrating sometimes,” added the sergeant who also requested to remain anonymous.

With gang feuds raging in Mountain View, Bayshore Park, Red Hills Road, McIntyre Villa (popularly known as Dunkirk), various parts of Clarendon and in western Jamaica; and with a fresh one threatening to emerge in the dormitory community of Waterford in Portmore, St Catherine among other violent skirmishes in pockets across the island, the nation’s security apparatus is creaking under the weight.

Shields... It is going to take the country a decade or more to see some positive results.

In addition, the police and soldiers have been out in their numbers manning five existing states of emergencies, zones of special operations and maintaining law and order in major town centres with the onset of the Yuletide season.

All this has brought the security forces to a point where resources are stretched compounded by the fact that the criminals are showing no signs of easing their feet off the gas pedal of lawlessness.

Former Deputy Commissioner of Police turned security consultant, Mark Shields, supports the sentiments expressed by the cops.

“They are completely stretched. Despite there being a massive recruitment drive by both the police and the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force), it is still going to take time to train those people,” Shields told Loop News.

More uniformed officers can be seen patrolling the streets in downtown Kingston, New Kingston and the busy hub of Half Way Tree in the Corporate Area but their presence has done little to quell the activities of hoodlums who seize every opportunity to rob persons who pass through those areas.

Just last weekend a woman was relieved of her handbag in close proximity to the Half Way Tree Transportation Centre. The robbers fled and mingled with the heavy peak hour evening crowd before the police had a chance to respond.

In addition, the police also have their hands full trying to contain the unruly behavior of route taxi, public passenger drivers and other motorists on the roads.

According to Shields, it will take Jamaica sometime to see a turnaround towards a more stable and orderly society.

“It is going to take the country a decade or more to see some positive results,” he said.

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