Regional

Clampdown

Westmoreland police move to deal with crime and violence in the parish

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland - Westmoreland vendors who peddle their wares on the premises of gas stations, will face the full force of the law, as the police in the parish step up their fight against crime on all fronts.

Commander of the Westmoreland Police Division, Superintendent Gary McKenzie said vendors are claiming that they are being given permission by gas station operators to sell at their facilities in Savanna-la-Mar, but the senior cop fired back, saying that it is only the Municipality that is armed with that power to grant permission for selling in the town.

“The owners don't have any authority to either contract the space or give anybody permission to vend. Because where people vend, and what they vend, is the prerogative of the Municipal Corporation. So that is one of the things we are clamping down on,” Superintendent McKenzie revealed.

Chairman of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation Councillor Bertel Moore, explained that while at times the Municipal Corporation grants permission to vendors to ply their trade on the premises of established businesses on the request of the owners, that would not be allowed at gas stations.

But he was quick to point out that he is not aware of any vending at gas stations in the parish.

“What happens sometimes…they (businesses) have areas beside them that they would give persons letters to come to us for permits to vend, then we would give them a permit. But a gas station could never send something like that to us. We would never accept it,” Moore, who is also mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, stressed.

Speaking with the Observer West, Supt McKenzie also sounded a warning to illegal street vendors that their actions will not be tolerated, adding that criminals are using vendors as a smokescreen to undertake their nefarious activities.

“The mass vending on sidewalks and that sort of thing, we have to also cut that out. Pedestrians can't get anywhere to walk and even when they walk, people rob them because what these guys do is stand in-between the vendors as if they themselves are vendors, when they are really not. Illegal street vending is a problem and we have to deal with it,” he stressed.

“We are revving up operations against all forms of illegal activities. We start cleaning the areas and we want the citizens to understand because we can't compromise order.”

Mayor Moore said the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation and the police are to meet in coming days to hammer out strategies to stamp out illegal street vending in the parish.

And as the Westmoreland police intensify their efforts, McKenzie informed that they have seized 52 illegal firearms since the start of the year.

Further, he pointed to the recent capture of two men who are believed to be players in gang warfare that has been raging in Grange Hill, which was brought to national focus in May, following the shooting death of seven people and injuring of 10 by marauding gunmen.

The two men, Gregory Gordon, otherwise called 'Mutch' and Pete Bowen, also called 'Tell Lie', both of Sterling, Grange Hill, were taken into custody after a group of men reportedly opened fire on the police in Grange Hill.

After the shooting subsided, they (Gordon and Bowen) were held during a search of the area by the police, and subsequently charged for shooting with intent.

“Both men feature in the gangs up there (Grange Hill). And these two in particular, are from the Sterling area, so we believe that they are connected to the feud up there. They were charged for shooting with intent,” he explained.

Superintendent McKenzie noted that motorcycles feature heavily in criminal activities in the parish, adding that the police have already seized a number of motorcycles.

He also pointed out that lottery scamming fuels crime in the parish, noting that the drive against the illegal sweepstakes has led to the recent detention of eight people.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of killings in the parish, including Rohan Bucknor, a police constable, who was gunned down at a barbershop in Petersfield, almost two weeks ago. His attackers are said to be still at large.

Up to Sunday, the murder tally in the parish was 94, two shy of the 96 recorded over the similar period last year.

The double murder of two St Catherine construction workers in Belmont, Westmoreland, on that day, was the latest homicides recorded by the police in the parish.

According to reports, about 1:15 am, Fritz “Jarrett” Gerard, 41, a mason, and Dwayne Bell, 33, a labourer, from Blacks Bay in Belmont and Sports Park Lane in Spanish Town, were shot multiple times by unknown assailant(s) who entered their house.

The police who were summoned after residents heard loud explosions, discovered the men with multiple gunshot wounds.

They were later pronounced dead at hospital.

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