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St James’ top cop moves to cramp murders in parish

Published:Thursday | March 14, 2019 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

While there are fresh jitters among stakeholders in St James as a result of the post-state of public emergency (SOE) spike in murders, Superintendent Vernon Ellis, commanding officer of the St James Police Division, remains confident that a strategy is now in place to blunt the lawlessness.

“We have studied the variables involved in policing St James, and we have used that to develop a five-pronged strategy, which will be used to tackle the situation, especially in regards to murders, shootings, and robberies,” said Ellis.

“While we cannot disclose methods and strategies for obvious reasons, we have already rolled out aspects of the plan, and we are seeing encouraging results,” said Ellis, who has had extensive command experience in various units to include the Lottery Scam Task Force.

Ellis believes that once he is able to fully roll out his plan, St James should see murders, which fell from 335 in 2017 to 103 under the state of public emergency last year, dipping below the 100 mark for the first time since 2006 when the lottery scam emerged and wanton lawlessness followed.

Ripe for assault

Having had a chance to study the impact of the SOE in terms of how the criminals operate, interacting with the various communities, building the scope for public trust, along with retaining the assets to fight crime, Ellis is of the view that the situation is ripe for a meaningful assault against criminal elements in the parish.

“We have, basically, retained all the assets from the SOE, including the ability to call in air support when needed,” said Ellis. “Except for the fact that the military is no longer able to operate on their own, and we are no longer able to detain criminal suspects without charge for extended periods, we have all the other resources at our disposal.”

While St James has had 23 murders since the start of the year, Ellis said that the police have had some successes in blocking the re-entry of criminals, who had fled the SOE, as well as removing a number of illegal guns from the streets and arresting gangsters.

“We have apprehended several gangsters, to include one top-tier member of the G City Gang,” said Ellis. “We have also seized a number of illegal weapons. I think the number stands at about 18.”

Ellis is calling on residents to stay calm and support the police’s effort to remove criminals and their corrupting influences from the various communities.