Sat | Jan 25, 2020

‘They are failures!’ - Opposition blasts heads of security forces

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:09 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Lambert Brown
Lambert Brown

The leaders of Jamaica’s security forces have been blasted as “failures” by one opposition senator.

Lambert Brown made the assertion yesterday before opposition senators voted along with their colleagues on the government side to extend states of emergency (SOE) in five parishes and a St Andrew police division for another 30 days.

“I believe the leadership [of the security forces] has failed. All they want to do is recommend a next state of emergency or a next seven ZOSOs (zone of special operations),” Brown said as the Senate debated the extension.

“They are failures in my book, they are failures in my book,” he insisted.

However, government senators, led by Pearnel Charles Jr, defended the security measure, citing, as proof, the reduction of murders and shootings since the SOE was declared in the majority of areas.

As an example, Charles disclosed that the tri-parish region of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland has seen an overall 27 per cent reduction in murders and 26 per cent in shootings since the SOE was imposed on April 30.

PREMATURE DISCONTINUATION

He acknowledged that St James has seen a near 40 per cent increase in murders and a 25 per cent rise in shootings under the SOE this year when compared with the corresponding period last year. However, he said this is 61 per cent reduction when compared to the similar period in 2017.

“We must take value from the lesson learnt from a premature ending of the state of public emergency,” he said, taking a swipe of the parliamentary Opposition’s decision not to support an extension of the SOEs that were in place at the time.

“As in the case with St James, a discontinuation of the state of public emergency on the 31st of January this year subsequently resulted in a resurgence of violent crimes and gang activities which are now being experienced in the parish,” Charles Jr continued.

However, Brown again argued that the security crackdowns were not working, charging that criminals were “outsmarting this government”.

“The truth is, they continue to win because the Government and its response [to the recent spate of killings] have been clueless,” Brown argued.

The states of emergency declared in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St Catherine, Clarendon and the St Andrew South Police Division have been extended for another 30 days. They were scheduled to expire between January 4 and 27 next year.

The Senate also approved a temporary amendment to the contentious Noise Abatement Act that will extend by two hours the lock-off times for entertainment events on both weekdays and weekends. The temporary extension, which sets new lock-off times of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. for weekdays and weekends, respectively, ends on January 31 next year.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com