#Jamaica, May 05, 2018 – Kingston – Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says the security forces in St. James continue to make far-reaching gains against criminal networks. Addressing the Senate on May 2, she said eight feared gang leaders have been nabbed by law officers, adding that the State of Public Emergency is being used to make further gains in the restoration of public order in the parish, and in the St. Catherine North Police Division.
The Senator’s address came as she sought her colleagues’ support for a Resolution to extend the State of Public Emergency in St. James for a further 90 days. Senators unanimously gave approval for the extension.
Senator Johnson Smith noted that there has been a “drastic decline” in crime in St. James since the enhanced security measures were implemented. She reported that from January to April 2018, St. James has recorded 62 fewer murders, in comparison to last year’s figure for the same period.
“Incidents of wounding are down by 76 per cent and shootings are down by 60 per cent,” the Minister said.
According to Senator Johnson Smith, the security forces have identified 33 criminal gangs in the parish, made up mostly of young men, and a few women.
“They create mayhem and instability in communities, because they want to assert power against the State,” she told the Upper House, adding that even with the welcome reduction of crime in St. James, pressure must continue on the criminals, with the emergency powers.
The Minister cautioned against revealing to the public everything being done to fight crime. She said criminals are very sophisticated, and they monitor the media and pay keen attention to security issues.
“While the criminals plan, they should never know our action plans, and they must never know what we are planning to do and when,” she said. “We intend to keep that strategic advantage in St. James and St. Catherine North as long as we can,” the Minister said.
The State of Public Emergency was announced and declared in St. James on January 18 by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, and then extended after the first 14 days, as required by the Jamaican Constitution.