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St James murder rate falls to 20-year low - Six killings recorded this year

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor


With six killings in the first 44 days of 2020, the parish of St James, which was dubbed Jamaica’s murder capital in 2017, has seen its homicide rate fall to a 20-year low.

At the current rate, about 50 people will be killed at year end.

States of emergency imposed in the northwestern parish over the last two years have pulled down the spate of killings which spiked to a record high of 342 in 2017.

That year, St James recorded a per-capita murder rate of 137 per 100,000, almost three times the national average.

Killings fell to 103 in 2018 but rose to 152 the following year, which saw a three-month hiatus in the security crackdown.

“The hard work is paying off ... . We hope this trend will continue for the remainder of the year,” said Superintendent Vernon Ellis, the commanding officer for the St James police.

“We are steadily falling into the pattern. In November, we went 21 consecutive days without a murder.”

In addition to the reduction in murders, Ellis revealed that over the same 44-day period, the police also seized 14 illegal firearms and about 250 assorted rounds of ammunition.

“Things are looking up and we want to praise the results we have gotten from the social intervention programmes that have allowed us to get into the various communities and interact with the residents and win their confidence,” said Ellis. “We have discovered that the vast majority of the people want to live in peace and they are willing to support our efforts to get that peace.”

The police commander was full of praise for the military, describing them as capable partners in the fight to break the back of lawlessness in the parish. He also disclosed that the CCTV network in downtown Montego Bay was now fully functional and, in coordination with the police’s rapid response motorcycle team, has downtown Montego Bay under blanket surveillance.