10/21/05

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A bloody June in Jamaica - 150 murdered in 30 days - St Mary couple killed

 By Glenroy Sinclair

 The slaughter continued into July, as on the weekend the country's murder tally increased with the killing of prominent Highgate couple Winston Chin and his wife, Ilene, who were gunned down at their gate in the Claremont district, St. Mary, Saturday night.

Mr. Chin, 56, a Justice of the Peace in Annotto Bay, and his wife, 50, drove up at their gate in a Toyota Hiace minibus when they were pounced upon on by armed thugs. The Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) said the gunmen opened fire, hitting Mr. Chin.

His wife ran from the vehicle and was chased and shot a short distance away, the CCN reported. They were taken to the Annotto Bay Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

"It is really a disturbing sign," said 'Bobby' Pottinger, the Custos of St. Mary. He described the acts as a shock to the usually quiet community.

The Custos said he intends to meet with the Police High Command in the parish to discuss strategies to strengthen community crime-fighting initiatives. Mr. Pottinger said he will be targeting neighbourhood watches and citizens' associations to encourage them to be more alert.

June, a month normally associated with weddings, saw over 150 persons murdered in separate incidents across the island. The police reported that 83 persons were murdered in June last year and between 1998 and 2004, an average of 80 persons were killed in that month.

"We have not seen any pattern or trend, nothing new has been happening within the period to link the increase to anything," Deputy Commissioner Lucius Thomas told The Gleaner.

He attributed most of the killings to reprisals, gang feuds and domestic violence. While expressing concern about the high incidence of homicides, the Deputy Commissioner said the idea came up some time ago that a study should be done on the months of April, May and June, to establish the reasons for the increase in homicides within this period.

WEEKLY CRIME STATISTICS

Last week, Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said that the Public Order Committee will meet today to advance the process of dealing specifically with the issues of crime, violence and public order.

He said that the meeting is a follow-up to the recent national broadcast to the nation by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, in which he addressed the crime problem and social disorder in the country.

The police weekly crime statistics point to 45 killed in the first week, the second week another 31 persons were killed, the following week the figure decreased to 27 and the fourth week it increased to 42.

Operation Kingfish goes dancing looking at artistes

By Glenroy Sinclair and Tyrone Reid

Head of Operation Kingfish, Assistant Commissioner, Glenmore Hinds, revealed that a team of detectives is examining a list of popular entertainers, whom intelligence suggests, are involved in the illegal importation of guns and ammunition.

While not disclosing names, ACP Hinds said he would not be surprised if some of these entertainers were licensed firearm holders.

The Sunday Gleaner was informed that a number of prominent entertainers are licensed firearm holders.

Hinds said a leading deejay is currently under close scrutiny.

"We are being guided by our intelligence," he said.

In a recent interview with The Gleaner, Police Commissioner, Lucius Thomas, confirmed that some entertainers have been linked to crime. The commissioner, who was addressing students at the Waterford Primary School on Peace Day on March 3, stressed that while some entertainers were of good character, a number of them were involved in gun crimes and other criminal offences.

INVESTIGATED FOR NARCOTICS

Additionally, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Narcotics Chief, Assistant Commissioner Errol Strong, said entertainers were also being investigated by narcotics detectives.

Desmond Young, president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM), informed The Sunday Gleaner that 'word on the street' is that the authorities are looking for scapegoats and entertainers fit the profile.

"The argument on the street that they are targeting some well known artistes (so as) to have someone to say 'si who is causing all the violence - a dem bwoy yah - but that is the farthest thing from the truth," he said.

"Not to say that they are innocent or guilty, but to highlight them could be perceived as passing the buck ... It is obvious that some bigger players are involved," Young added.

He was adamant that none of his organisation's 2,000 members were among those being probed.

"None of our members have been charged with anything. There are people who are in the industry but they are not members of the JFM, so we can't speak for those people," he said.

DISSUADING ENTERTAINERS

Nevertheless, Young hinted that dissuading entertainers from having a microphone in one hand and illegal activities in the other is not a part of his organisation's mandate.

"The JFM deals with musicians, not criminals. We deal with persons in their professional capacity," he argued.

Still, he is calling on the relevant authorities to handle the investigations professionally as it may taint the music industry's image.

"These matters need to be handled quietly ... It can stigmatise the whole industry and people must be careful how it is put to the public," he said.

  

CRIME REPORT
published: Thursday | March 31, 2005

Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter


Senior Superintendent Newton Amos inspects a Smith and Wesson gun seized during a shoot-out in the Majesty Gardens area of St. Andrew earlier this month. One man was shot dead by the police during the shoot-out. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

 

Jamaica's homicide count stood at a frightening 411 at the end of March according to police crime statistics. Three of the country's bloodiest divisions St. Andrew South, St. Catherine North, and St. James have contributed to just under half of the number of persons murdered since January. These are the prime areas which Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas said he would be targeting. Recently, he said that he would be increasing the relevant resources in these divisions, in order to reduce the murder rate.

 

ST. CATHERINE NORTH

Police working with communities

MURDERS SINCE JANUARY: 56

COMMANDING OFFICER: Superintendent Kenneth Wade

WHILE COMMISSIONER Thomas has increased the human resources in the violence-prone St. Catherine North division, the commanding officer, Superin-tendent Kenneth Wade, said soldiers were not deployed to this division.

"The soldiers are not here as yet, but we have been using an intervention process to defuse feuds between rival factions," he said.

Elaborating on the point, the officer explained that the intervention of the Peace Management Unit (PMI) dialogue with the leadership of the communities and assistance of local support groups, are the tools he has been using to reduce tension between the communities.

Superintendent Wade said the police have been silently working with both governmental and non-governmental organisations to take on various roles in the communities. These could help tackle problems, such as the high illiteracy rate, the deep rooted social problems and political divisions.

SOUTH ST. ANDREW

Intelligence unit doing a good job

MURDERS SINCE JANUARY: 69

COMMANDING OFFICER: Superintendent Newton Amos Superintendent Amos said his divisional intelligence unit is doing a fantastic job.

"THIS IS a unit that helped us to recovered 27 of the 105 guns we seized last year. I depend on this unit to deploy my resources on a daily basis," said Supt. Amos, who added that there were at least 90 arrests in connection with the weapons found.

The unit, which is one of those spearheading the Jamaica Con-stabulary Force's modernisation process, has helped the St. Andrew South police to target specific individuals, rather than carrying out mass round-ups of detainees.

One of Superintendent Amos' main concerns is the poor success in the courts.

This he blamed on the unwillingness of witnesses to testify in court, faulty preparation of case files and the absence of police personnel from court, which sometimes resulted in the release of the accused persons.

"Disciplinary actions are being taken against some of these policemen," said Supt. Amos. "Some of the charges are criminal ones and others are internal."

Among the obstacles faced by the lawmen in St. Andrew South is a shortage of safety equipment.

ST. JAMES DIVISION

Tourism sector pledges aid

MURDERS SINCE JANUARY: 40

COMMANDING OFFICER: Senior Superintendent K.K. Knight

SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT K.K. Knight of the St. James Division when contacted on Tuesday declined to comment on the crime situation in his division, asking to be interviewed at a later date.

The tourism and other business interests in the parish have expressed serious concern about the galloping crime problem in the resort. Last year, a group of business interests committed to provide resources, such as vehicles and petrol to assist the police in the fight against crime and violence in the parish.

The spectre of murder
published: Saturday | April 2, 2005

The deep longing that many in the country harbour, to see the monster of crime tamed, was given somewhat dramatic effect on Thursday during the ceremonial opening of Parliament.

Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, and the nation, heard some muffled applause from the Gordon House benches when he declared that there would be no surrender to the criminal elements; and he went on to cite stiffer penalties against gun smuggling, along with enhancement of port security.

The Throne Speech which marks the formal start of a new parliamentary year is by tradition crafted by the government administration and delivered by the Governor-General. The formality of the ceremonial opening is usually graced by the upbeat tone of what the Government projects as new policy to build on positive achievement; but to be credible the negatives have to be acknowledged as well.

Thus, Sir Howard Cooke followed his script on the nuts and bolts of economic and social programmes. Then he paused, and in sombre tones conceded that while the initial results of the war on crime were "very encouraging in some respects, sadly the murder rate is rising..."

Indeed it is. Police statistics show that at the end of March, the toll stood at 411 in the first three months of the year, against a background of more than 1,400 last year. Some observers compare Jamaica's killing fields to the daily carnage in Iraq. As one letter writer to the Editor last week cited statistics from Colombia and South Africa to make the claim that, pro rata, Jamaica leads the world in this respect. Herein lies our dilemma. We are doing infinitely worse than countries which have either open or underground guerrilla warfare.

In the speech, Sir Howard referred to another of the worrying aspects of fighting crime in Jamaica the behaviour of the police themselves. A projected National Independent Investigation Authority is slated to be the answer to the persistent contention that the police can't really investigate the rogues among them who shame their uniforms in ways that corrupt crime-fighting. The Government should move swiftly to get this one up and running.

We note that there was no clear statement in the Throne Speech of the moral intangibles that the Church has been asked to inject into the war against crime. It may well be that the emphases on early education at home and in school should be understood in that light; alongside the social outreaches to repair the ramshackle of the inner cities which have spawned a lost generation of young criminals.

The spectre of 'murder most foul' has never before given pause to the formal recital of a government's programme for a new fiscal year. That grim shadow must be eradicated or all the other grand plans will fail. 

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