Security Forces Get Special Powers in Crime-Ridden Community in Jamaica’s Capital

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday October 18, 2017 – In a tough crack down on crime in the West Kingston community of Denham Town, the Jamaica government has declared the area its second zone of special operation (ZOSO) in just over a month.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the move during a news conference yesterday, 46 days after Mount Salem, St James was the first community to get the designation. Under the Zone of Special Operations legislation, security forces are given special powers.

According to Holness, rampant gang warfare, which had resulted in murders and other crimes, had forced authorities to take what he called “strategic” action.

“The selected zone was deemed to have met the first order criteria for being considered and declared a zone,” Holness explained. “Those first order criteria would be ongoing gang warfare, rampant criminality, escalating violence and murder, and a threat to rule of law.”

Police Commissioner George Quallo disclosed that there were 12 gangs currently operating in the volatile community.

“The ongoing gang feud has resulted in increased violence in the area which directly affects the free movement of residents and also has a negative impact on economic and social activities within the communities and surrounding areas,” he said.

The top cop added that perpetrators were generally dons and top-tier gang members who dominated the communities through illegal activities such as extortion, armed robbery and contract killings.

“In 2014, there were nine incidents resulting in 10 victims; in 2015, there were nine incidents resulting in nine victims; in 2016, there were 12 incidents resulting in 12 victims; and so far this year, there have been 17 incidents resulting in 17 victims as it relates to murders,” Quallo shared.

The first phase of Denham Town’s ZOSO saw a curfew being imposed in the area and a police-military team will take control of the area.

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