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Residents call for clampdown in Spanish Town

Published:Tuesday | February 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Spanish Town residents want a state of public emergency in the area to quell the out-of-control violence, similar to what is happening in St James.

When gunmen ran roughshod over a birthday celebration in Thompson Pen, Spanish Town, in St Catherine on Sunday night, killing three and injuring a 10-year-old boy, it served to remind residents of the gravity of the crime infestation in their community.

Murders also took place in Hellshire, Portmore and Linstead in the parish between Sunday and yesterday.

Residents are fed up and are calling on the authorities to do more to curb crime in the country's former capital.

"Honestly, I wouldn't mind if the Government introduces either a state of emergency or name Spanish Town the next zone of special operations (ZOSO)," Janet Williamson, a resident of upper Thompson Pen, said.

Rampant criminality has made the case for the crackdown, she said, telling The Gleaner that it was vital to save the town and restore order before it descended into all-out chaos.

A total of 30 persons have been murdered in Spanish Town since the start of 2018, an increase of 40 per cent over the corresponding period last year, according to Senior Superintendent Beau Rigabie, who is in charge of the St Catherine North Police Division.

Rigabie, however, said it would not be tactically prudent to disclose the options being mulled by the security forces.

"I cannot speak to that (ZOSO or state of emergency) at this time. All that I am prepared to say is that we will be vigilant in our duties to safeguard the public to the best of our abilities," said Rigabie.

"However, they, too, have a role and a stake in this. The citizens need to step forward with information that can be used to put away these criminals."

A section of the St Catherine North Division was placed under curfew in June 2017, but it appeared not to have quelled much of the violence, as it reared its ugly head in recent weeks, leaving several people dead.

"The only answer right now is either a ZOSO or the state of emergency, like the one they have in St James. As far as I see, that is working, so we need one now," said one man, who gave his name only as Lucky.