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Jamaica – Call in the gang leaders

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St James Southern MP wants police to meet with thugs for crime solutions

MONTEGO BAY, St James – In the wake of the spiralling murder rate in St James, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Homer Davis is proposing that the police invite gang leaders for a sit-down as part of efforts to tame the crime monster.

According to police statistics, between January 1 and June 6, 104 people were murdered in St James, which is 26 more homicides when compared with the corresponding period in 2021.

“I am really agonising over how we intercede with the gangs that are really creating havoc in our space. I have a thought process, Commissioner [Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers]. I think if we can get the combatants, the leaders of these groups, gangs together and put them in a space and say ‘Listen, tell me now where are you fighting for. Tell me what do you want, what do you need? What can we do to appease you?’ ” Davis, who is also Member of Parliament for St James Southern, suggested.

“My take on it is that the police have information on all the violence producers in the parish. Why don’t we start pulling them together, bring them together in a room and say ‘Listen, you are G6, you are G7 or you are 87. I am serious — what is the problem?’ If you have two children in the home that can’t live together, don’t you pull them together and say ‘Listen, what is the problem?’

CHAMBERS…St James is one of the most difficult divisions (Photo: Philp Lemonte)

“In most instances those who are coming to these violence interruption or interrupting meetings are usually the people who don’t want to get involved in crime or somebody who has probably got a brush with the law and doesn’t want to get back into it.”

Davis underscored that a different approach is needed to cauterise the rampant bloodletting in the parish but was quick to add that the police cannot tame the crime monster by themselves.

“Let me tell you Commissioner, we have a big problem. We have 300 active gangs across Jamaica and to be honest with you, with the best will in the world the police alone can’t manage. Don’t mek we fool ourselves. If we have a police on every corner — which we can’t afford — I doubt if we would be able to manage it,” he argued.

“We have to develop different approaches. Legislation is good but legislation is not the all. We have the anti-gang legislation and, as I have said over and over, if we continue on that same trajectory we are going to choke the justice system. You can imagine 60 members of various gangs before a court with 60 attorneys, with 60 cases?

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