Increase in murders pushed security chiefs to request SOEs – Anderson

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Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, has pointed to the increase in murders as the main reason that necessitated the imposition of states of emergency (SOEs) in seven parishes including the southern arc of Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and Clarendon and the tri-parish area of Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the SOEs during a media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister Tuesday morning where he too cited the increase in murders and gang activities as justification for the security measure.

Speaking at the same briefing, Anderson noted that up to Sunday, November 13 a total of 1,360 murders had been committed in Jamaica. This represents an increase of 6.8 percent over the corresponding period last year.

The country’s top cop said that 10 of the 19 police divisions that fall in the areas where the SOEs have been declared account for 72 percent of the murders and 75 percent of the shootings carried out in the country this year.

“The main drivers of these violent crimes continue to be gang violence which accounts for 71 percent of all murders and inter-personal conflicts which account for another 16 percent of these murders,” Anderson stated.

He said the police have reaped some successes since he announced at a press conference in February that they would be targeting guns, gangs, and gunmen. He pointed out that year-to-date some 675 illegal firearms have been seized, a 10 percent increase over 2021, while the police have disrupted gun runners and contract killers on their way to perpetuate crimes. Anderson said the Jamaica Constabulary Force has achieved these successes in collaboration with its partners including the Jamaica Defence Force, with detailed policing and security plans.

“There is an urgency to what we do as a society and it’s on this basis that there’s no place for reticence in using every tool that is available to us collectively in order to deal with this situation. It’s how we’re going to staunch the bloodletting,” he argued.

Anderson told the media briefing that it was against this backdrop, in conjunction with Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, that he requested the use of emergency powers under a limited state of emergency. He highlighted that during previous SOEs there was an average 40 percent reduction in murders.

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