Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Fitz Jackson, Opposition Spokesman on National Security
Prime Minister Andrew Holness is insisting he will not put a timeline on the three States of Public Emergency now in effect.
The Parliamentary Opposition has been complaining about the indefinite extensions of the crime fighting measures.
However, while requesting another extension of the measure in St. James until January 31, 2019, Mr. Holness told the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon that the government would not give up its strategic advantage by saying when it will end.
The Prime Minister noted that while members of the Opposition are skeptic about the states of emergency being used as an effective crime fighting strategy and have argued that the criminals will just wait until the measure has expired before continuing their wrongdoings, he said that is exactly the reason he will not set a timeline as that could give away the government's strategic intent.
Mr. Holness argued that the strategies under the state of emergency have been working.
Citing figures from January 1, 2018 to October 11, 2018, Mr. Holness said 77 murders and 86 shootings were recorded in St. James - a 53 per cent and a 67 per cent decline respectively, when compared to the same period in 2017.
Year without murder
In the meantime, Mount Salem in St. James has completed a year without a murder or shooting.
The announcement was made as the Prime Minister requested a 60-day extension of the Zone of Special Operations in the community - a departure from the 90-day extensions which have been requested since the zone was established more than a year ago.
Mr. Holness told the House of Representatives that Mount Salem is now a completely different community than it was in August 2017, pointing to a dramatic decline in gang related violence in the area.
The Prime Minister is promising that more Zones of Special Operations will soon be set up even as the Opposition accuses the government of abandoning the crime-fighting measure.
Mr. Holness said the two ZOSOs in operation are being viewed as test cases.
He said the government has had a year to study them to see what legislative changes need to be made.
He added that the lessons from the two zones will be used to inform the setting up of more.
However, Fitz Jackson, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, remained unconvinced the Government is serious about pursuing the use of ZOSOs.
He argued that apart from Mount Salem, neither of the zones of special operations in St. Catherine North and Denham Town has achieved any level of success and so the government had abandoned the initiative.