KINGSTON, Jamaica–The Enhanced Security Measures – formerly referred to as a State of Emergency – in the northwestern parish of St James is making an impact, particularly when it comes to suppressing gang activity, Jamaican police claim.
According to Deputy Superintendent Ainsley McCarthy, during the period ending February 28, a total of 916 persons were taken into custody.
He said 65 of the detainees were charged for various offences and that 24 of the 916 still remain in detention. Among those detained were 37 juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17, who were processed and later released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
“Of the 24 persons that we have in custody, we have an interest in a number of them, who are in some way or another related to gangs,” McCarthy said.
“We have applied for 10 detention orders from the Minister (of National Security) to have some of these persons remanded in custody for an extended period of time. We also intend to apply for detention orders for a further seven who are in custody.”
McCarthy said since some of the detainees were taken into custody during the Enhanced Security Measures, there has been a noticeable decrease in gang activities and the “parish has been returning to some sort of normalcy”.
He noted that at the beginning of the operations, there were some opening guidelines for shops, bars, clubs, gas stations and other businesses, but those hours were reviewed and extended and the Jamaica Constabulary Force is “pleased with the results that we are seeing so far”.
The Deputy Superintendent also reported that the issue of overcrowding and other glitches that were experienced in the initial stages of the operations have been resolved.
A State of Emergency in St James took effect on January 18 for an initial period of 14 days, but was subsequently extended to May 2, following a unanimous vote for an extension in the House of Representatives.
Officials subsequently stopped using the term ‘State of Emergency’ and instead referred to ‘Enhanced Security Measures’. National Security Minister Robert Montague explained that was done because the island’s tourist capital, Montego Bay, is located in St James and ‘State of Emergency’ has a negative connotations overseas.