Parade Gardens, Savanna-la-Mar (South) ZOSOs showing early progress, Chang saysWednesday, January 26, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang says there have been no incidents of criminal violence within the geographical boundaries of the declared Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Parade Gardens, Kingston and Savanna-la-Mar (south) in Westmoreland.
Updating Parliament on Tuesday, Chang said residents in the two communities have responded favourably to the ZOSOs, and that the security forces are carrying out their operations “respectfully and effectively”.
However, an Observer report on Wednesday revealed complaints of physical and verbal abuse by soldiers operating within the ZOSO in Savanna-la-Mar South during engagement with residents of Coke Street.
The ZOSO was declared in Parade Gardens on January 9, and Westmoreland on January 16, 2022, to stem the increase in gun crimes particularly murder.
“This Government is ensuring improved conditions for the residents of these communities in a move to progressively restore peace, safety and public order,” Chang said.
The minister stated that as the administration continues to put measures in place to secure the right to life of all citizens, the Savanna-la-Mar (South) ZOSO was necessary given the extraordinary levels of criminal violence that were taking place within the area.
Data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force indicated that Westmoreland accounted for 128 murders last year, an increase of 60 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2020.
According to Chang, these acts of criminal violence are largely fuelled and financed by lottery scamming, contract killings and feuds from ill-gotten gains.
He said that in the face of such heinous violence, “the greatest reassurance we can give to the residents is a long term community transformation strategy that is built on a foundation of safety and security. That is the objective of having implemented this ZOSO in Savanna-la-Mar”.
In addition, he noted that the Zone of Special Operations is one of the tools the Government will utilise to bring the process of sustainable and meaningful change to the residents of these communities.
“Even as we utilise this tool within the limited boundaries of the declared Zone, the police have the full support of the Government in conducting intensified security operations across the entire parish,” the minister said.
The Zone of Special Operations in Savanna-la-Mar (South) is the seventh ZOSO in operation, and while there are approximately 25 communities across Jamaica that would qualify for a ZOSO, the resources are lacking to sufficiently and adequately carry out this type of operation in such a simultaneous manner, the minister stated.
“Given the equally critical levels of criminality in these communities, we should not limit the tools that are available to the police. We must put alternative measures in place and provide the critical tools to control the violence until we build out the capacity,” he urged.