Tue | Jul 23, 2024

St James top cop: We celebrate seizing guns, not killing gangsters

Samuels wants criminals to surrender, not confront security forces

Published:Thursday | June 13, 2024 | 12:09 AMAdrian Frater/Gleaner Writer
Superintendent Eron Samuels, head of the St James Police Division.
Superintendent Eron Samuels, head of the St James Police Division.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Superintendent Eron Samuels, the police commander for St James, is keen to celebrate the two high-powered rifles that were removed from the streets last week but not the demise of the two alleged high-profile gangsters who were killed in confrontation with the police over that same period.

“We are always happy when firearms are recovered, but we are never happy when lives are lost as we prefer when criminals surrender to the police,” Samuels told The Gleaner.

“We will never celebrate the loss of life … if in defending themselves and the people of Jamaica a life is lost, it is usually because we have no choice.

“The police have superior training, and we believe that if they put their training to use, they are going to do what they are trained to do,” added Samuels.

Last week, two alleged top-tier gangsters, Collin ’On Cock’ Walters, a much-feared enforcer from the notorious Tucker-based 13 Street Gang; and Ackeem ‘Rizzla’ Brown, the alleged leader of the Dump Gang, in Retirement, were killed in separate police operations in the parish.

Beat Officer initiative

Samuels, who recently replaced his former boss, Senior Superintendent Vernon Ellis, as head of the St James Police Division, is pleased with his first major initiative, the unveiling of the Beat Officer Patrol Division (BOPD), which he says is already making a positive difference, especially in downtown Montego Bay.

“We are very satisfied as although it is still in its infancy stage, we are seeing the results in terms of the saturation of the streets. There was one major incident on William Street (a murder), and we have since made the necessary adjustments with deployment to make sure that area is now fully covered,” said Samuels.

“… The extra coverage has resulted in the capture of suspects in a murder that took place in the Granville space … we also had a fatal shooting with another set of team members in the Thompson Street area … . This was based on intelligence that the BOPD was able to generate and act on quickly,” added the police commander.

Responding to concerns that the heavy concentration of police personnel in downtown Montego Bay is easing the pressure off the traditional hotspots, Samuels said that that is not the case as all bases are being covered.

“We are very robust in how we operate in the space, and we have been doing well so far. We have been operating with the military and specialised operations to ensure all the hotspots are covered,” explained Samuels.

While the BOPD is currently focusing on safety and security, going forward, Samuels said their role will be expanded into addressing the vexing issue of illicit street vending and blatant traffic breaches.

“We expect that as we begin to understand the space better, we will see more operations conducted and an even greater sense of safety and security among the residents.”

“We can also look out for them to now start tackling more seriously the issues of illicit street vending and taxi operators who are operating in breach of the law,” Samuels shared.

“The safety and security of the citizens is our main priority. Crime and violence cannot and will not be allowed to continue, so we are encouraging citizens to play their part by cooperating with the police,” said Samuels. “We are not perfect, but we are trying to ensure that we get to that point where we have safe communities.”

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com