Christmas clampdown

400 new soldiers to join cops on the streets over the holiday period

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 08, 2019

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FOUR hundred young soldiers, who have recently been trained under the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), will hit the streets shortly, as part of an eight-week security plan to ensure that Jamaicans enjoy a safe holiday period.

Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Rocky Meade yesterday announced that the JNSC graduates will operate out of a new joint task force, which will help the police in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“These new soldiers have been extensively trained and are highly committed to playing their part and making their presence felt as a part of Jamaica's overall security structure,” Meade told a media briefing, which he shared with Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson at Jamaica House.

According to Meade, the joint task force is essentially an amalgamation and reorganisation of units and resources of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

“The goal here is to maintain a highly mobile and visible presence in these areas, in order to deter criminal activities. Unfortunately, we cannot give the exact details, but rest assured it will place members of the security forces where they are most effective and most needed,” said Meade.

“In addition to the [bolstering] of its numbers through the Jamaica National Service Corps graduates, [the JDF] will also be committing the full gamut of our intelligence capabilities and some specialised equipment and resources to support and sustain continuous operations over the [eight-week] period.

“This will result in more snap raids, more patrols, more checkpoints, and overall more soldiers and police in the affected communities. We expect that our increased operations will assist the police in targeting and arresting, or detaining gang members and other persons of interest, while denying them the freedom of movement to carry out illegal activities,” declared Meade.

The JDF head was providing details after a tough-talking Chang had sought to assure Jamaicans that the Government is committed to ensuring that law-abiding citizens can enjoy the holiday period in peace.

Chang noted that every year, at this time, people become anxious in carrying out their business transaction because there tends to be a surge in robberies and other types of acquisitive crimes.

“Given the increase in commercial activities in anticipation of the end-of-year festivities in particular, this is a matter that the Government takes very seriously and we have taken steps to effectively address it,” said Chang.

“The Government firmly believes that law-abiding Jamaicans must be able to conduct their business in a safe and secure environment, without fear of criminal activity,” declared Chang, as he told the briefing that he had instructed the commissioner of police and the chief of defence staff to ensure that the measures are implemented effectively.

The security minister accepted that there will be questions about how the Government will finance this increased security measure at a time when it is already spending millions on the states of emergency and other measures, but he declared that the cost was not a consideration.

“The Government does not place a dollar value on any life. We do not estimate the value of these operations based on cost, but rather on the number of lives saved [and] the number of children and families which are spared from trauma. The Government will commit the necessary resources through the budget,” said Chang.

For his part, the police commissioner said he met with his division commanders on Monday and gave them instructions to deal with their town centres, criminal gangs and dons over the next two months.

“It is not unusual for us as a police force to extend ourselves over the December period in the interest of making our citizens safe.

“This year we are embarking on this and other efforts earlier. We are going from this point forward to the end of the year, not only to secure our cities and our town centres, our commercial areas... but also as we go into next year, we want to set the conditions where we can have a successful year… in terms of the safety of our public,” said Anderson.

He said in the previous 24 hours, the police had seized five illegal guns, 84 rounds of ammunition, and a hand grenade through the stepped-up measures.


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