For the first time since the heated debate over the continuation of the States of Public Emergency erupted three weeks ago, the country heard today from the Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson.
General Anderson appeared before Parliament’s Internal and External Affairs Committee. He appealed to the Members of Parliament to support the continuation of the States of Public Emergency.
Two of the three States of Emergency have already expired. General Anderson says, as it stands, the sheer number of murders is weighing down the law enforcement and justice system.
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson says Jamaica’s capacity to investigate and process murders on every level is being overwhelmed. He made it clear that now is not the time for normal policing.
He discredited suggestions by Chairman Fitz Jackson that murders were seeing reductions outside of the States of Emergency.
General Anderson noted the last major reduction in crime followed the State of Public Emergency which took place during the Tivoli operations to apprehend Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2010.
But, the Police Commissioner says that particular State of Emergency did not benefit the parish of St. James.
He says while the country remains above a certain number of murders, the SOEs are still needed.
The Police Commissioner made it clear that while effective, the Zone of Special Operations, ZOSO, is not the right tool for areas such as St. James.
The Commissioner’s plea is of particular importance as the Holness administration continues its attempt to persuade the Opposition to reconsider it’s withdrawal of support for the SOEs.
The one considered the most critical is in St. James.
And, that special security measure will expire at the end of this month.
The Commissioner defended the detention of people under the States of Public Emergency despite the controversial report of Public Defender, Arlene Harrison-Henry.
The Police Commissioner says all arrests were information driven and not arbitrary.
Based on the Public Defender’s report, the opposition questioned why only a fraction of some three thousand detainees were charged with a crime.
General Anderson made it clear a good number deserved to be detained even if not enough evidence could be found to charge them.
And, the Police Commissioner says 30-people suspected of serious crimes were released when the State of Public Emergency in the St. Catherine North Police Division came to an end.
However, he says cases against them are difficult to make because witnesses are dead.