Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced the establishment of a Zone of Special Operation (ZOSO) in the Kingston Central Police Division for the next 60 days.
Focus will be on the Parade Gardens community in the division which has been “rocked by murder, rampant criminality and gang warfare.”
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a press conference Sunday morning.
Since the start of the year, the division recorded six murders. In 2021, there were 79 murders in the area, which Police Commissioner Antony Anderson says was a 55 percent increase over 2021, and the second highest percentage increase in all police divisions.
Not a replacement for States of Emergency
At the press conference, Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Change reiterated that the ZOSO is not a replacement for States of Public Emergency, but is a long/medium term activity which will help in reducing the number of homicides. He said while the government is not relying on any single measure, the administration will use al available tools.
The Jamaica Defence Force will have temporary powers of search and detention that according to JDF Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Rocky Meade are necessary to bring about some normalcy to the area.
Prime Minister Holness said there has been an agreement with the Opposition that where the murder rate is 32 per 100,000, the use of States of Public Emergency will be considered reasonable and justified.
“If anyone doesn’t recognize that we are in a state of emergency, then those persons don’t live in Jamaica; they are blind or have a political motive,” noted Holness.
ZOSO- Clear, hold and build strategy
Zones of Special Operations are based on the National Security Policy which recommends a clear, hold and build strategy for normalizing high-crime communities.
The strategy is used in areas with dangerous gangs and high levels of violence.
The first task is to clear the violent gangs from the community; followed by holding those areas by maintaining a strong continuous presence to provide reassurance and security.
Build refers to the engagement of other government organizations and non-government organizations in strengthening the community by providing education and training economic development, health care and justice.