WILLIAMS… rural police outposts are not prepared to effectively deal with these urban-type criminal activitiesDESPITE assurances from Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams that murders have been declining over the past 10 years, the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF’s) own statistics indicate that gangs continue to run amok, creating “franchises” across the island and spreading their wings further than ever before.Dr Williams told the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament on Tuesday that police intelligence estimates that there are 266 criminal gangs operating islandwide, with half of them actively committing murders and contributing to the current 22 per cent increase in the murder toll over last year.”Gang murders emanate primarily from internal rifts within gangs and the desire to break away from the parent gang and operate independently. This is the source of large amounts of violence and numerous murders,” said the police chief in a text prepared for the committee’s deliberations, from which the media was barred.He pointed to the Clansman gang in Spanish Town and the Stokely Collins gangs in Central Village, both in St Catherine, as examples.”One of the biggest challenges we have is that they have intimate knowledge about their rivals’ whereabouts, their modus operandi and so on, especially gangsters who were once friends and cohorts; they know where to find their targets and the relatives of their targets [so] it presents for us a very serious challenge to keep track of them, and of their victims,” the commissioner said, pointing out that it puts a strain on the police’s resources to try to track down the killers as well as to protect potential victims.The commissioner also pointed out that in many cases incarcerated gang leaders continue to rule from prison, using mobile phones and other means to control criminal activities. The JCF’s report on crime to the committee cited an example of some 40 murders in the Spanish Town area since January which were ordered by gang leaders who are doing time.The gang franchises, said the commissioner, have been wreaking havoc in rural areas, so much so that the traditional hotspots in the Corporate Area now have less crime than rural divisions such as St James, Westmoreland, and Clarendon.”You will have a franchise of the One Order gang out in St James, you will hear people down there calling themselves One Order; you have the Unruly Gang in several parishes, as well as the Umbrella gang. They are all connected in one way or another,” he remarked.Dr Williams said some rural police outposts are not prepared to effectively deal with these urban-type criminal activities so strategies such as curfews, and cordon-and-search operations are not very effective.In the meantime he said 493 of the 1,038 murders committed in the country up to October 31 were gang-related, and that 119 of those persons were killed due to gang activities although they were not connected to a gang.Fifty-four children have perished in these vicious attacks, and 99 or nine per cent of all victims were females. But the majority, 939, were males mainly between the ages of 20 and 29.
Published By: The Observer
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