MONTEGO BAY, St James — Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson emerged from a meeting with the business leaders in this resort city on Thursday, confident of getting assistance from them to fight the high levels of crime and violence in this parish.
“We have received the support of the business community to assist us in providing resource that will, first of all, allow for increased police presence in Montego Bay and its environs,” said Nelson.
“This commitment is very fundamental because if you don’t have resources then you can’t carry out the plans and programmes that you have,” he said.
He added that the business community also pledged to assist in the roll out of some social intervention programmes deemed necessary to address some of the “root causes” of crime and violence in the parish.
The security minister was speaking to reporters at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay following a closed-door meeting with the business leaders and other stakeholders, aimed at finding solutions to the runaway crime rate in the parish.
Immediate past president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce Lloyd B Smith who was in attendance at the meeting, later told the Observer that he was not fully satisfied with the outcome of the deliberations.
“I believe that until there is a greater level of coming together of the communities there are going to be what I call ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to whenever there is any serious escalation of crime in the parish.”
He argued that many of the suggestions that were made at yesterday’s meeting were made last year but they did not achieve the desired results.
“…So I really believe that we are treading waters and what we really need is a greater coming together and we need to get rid of the hypocrisy. There are too many cliques in Montego Bay that are operating in their own corner, while the city suffers,” he argued.
He charged that a number of the criminals in the parish are known to politicians but they refuse to come forward with the information.
“The politicians know who the gunmen are; they know a lot of things, but they are not being disclosed and followed upon, and I am tired of this hypocrisy,” he said.
Since the start of the year almost 100 people have been murdered in St James, with a high percentage of the homicides committed in the inner-city communities of Norwood, Glendevon and Salt Spring.
Following the killing of five persons in the Salt Spring area on April 26, Nelson, who visited that crime-prone community three days later, promised to establish a 50-man police post in the nearby community of Montego Hills.
Nelson told reporters on Thursday that the facility should be up and running within the next six weeks, adding that by year-end St James should have an additional 200 police personnel.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington has vowed to stem the crime wave in the parish, which he said has resulted mainly from the multimillion-dollar lottery scan; drug dealings and gun-running.
“We are going after the murderers; we have a plan of action working with; we have caught up with some of them already; some of them are still on the run but I am assuring Montegonians that they are not going to have to put up with these criminals much longer,” said Ellington.