With the declaration of States of Public Emergency in Clarendon and St. Catherine, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has earned the record of declaring as many SOEs as all of his predecessors combined.
As the administration struggles to grapple with Jamaica’s crime problem, Prime Minister Holness has used the measure as many times in his tenure, as it was used previously throughout Jamaica’s post independence.
Chevon Campbell has been taking a look at the historical record.
Before January 18, 2018, when Prime Minister Andrew Holness implemented a state of emergency in St James, Jamaica had experienced the enhanced security measure five times in its post- Independence history.
The first was declared by Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante in 1966, as a response to increasing political violence in West Kingston.
The measure was next controversially used by Prime Minister Michael Manley in June 1976 lasting to June the next year.
That’s the longest State of Emergency in Jamaica’s history so far.
States of Emergency were then declared briefly in 2004 and 2007 in response to Hurricanes Ivan and Dean.
Another infamous State of Emergency was declared in the run up to the extradition of Tivoli Garden’s strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke, leading to the Tivoli Incursion.
That’s five SoE’s in 56 years of Jamaica’s history, one each by five different Prime Ministers.
Prime Minister Holness himself has declared five SoE’s in just two years.
The first and longest of his tenure to date was declared in St. James in January 2018.
It ended, some believe prematurely, in January this year.
Another was declared for the St. Catherine North Police Division in the same year.
He then implemented another SOE in September of 2018 to cover three police Divisions in the Corporate Area.
Prime Minister Holness again re-imposed the Enhanced Security Measure in St. James and extended the boundaries to include Hanover and Westmoreland in April of this year.
His fourth was declared on July 7 in the St. Andrew South Police Division.
And he again announced just yesterday his fifth SOE to cover the parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon.
The Opposition PNP has previously vowed to challenge Mr. Holness’ use of the SOE as a crime control measure.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime, Fitz Bailey says the number of gang members that have been arrested under the States of Public Emergency is a measure of its success.
He was speaking on Nationwide this morning.
The Opposition yesterday said the declaration of a State of Emergency, in Clarendon and St Catherine was proof the government has no solution to the nation’s crime problem.
In a statement yesterday afternoon, Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson, said police statistics appear to show the enhanced security measure wasn’t a crime fighting tool.
Acting DCP Bailey says, so far there’re several cases that he’s describing as ‘air tight’.
He cites that the enhanced security measure shouldn’t be looked at in isolation because it gives the Police room to focus on investigations.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn says the SOE is allowing for better Police/ citizen cooperation.
The DPP says over the last two years, it’s the first she has seen so many cases being tried under the anti-gang legislation.
Paula Llewellyn, Director of Public Prosecutions speaking Nationwide this morning with Kalilah Reynolds and Patria-Kaye Aarons.