JDF battalion for MoBay

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Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday disclosed that the Government will increase its efforts to tackle the country’s nagging crime problem, saying that in western parishes the police will split their operational focus in two and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) will boost manpower.
“There will be restructuring of the security forces to increase operation and administrative focus on the western parishes, which will see the western operational area for the police split into two and the JDF presence increased to a battalion stationed in Montego Bay along with other infrastructure improvements to accommodate these changes,” Holness outlined in his New Year’s message to the nation, the full text of which is published on page 6 of today’s Jamaica Observer.
Under normal military standards, between 300 and 1,000 soldiers from four to six companies make up a battalion. Montego Bay, the capital of St James, where more than 260 murders were committed last year, will therefore see a significant increase in military presence.
Noting that sections of the country have been plagued by serious crimes, particularly murders, that have sent shockwaves across the country, Prime Minister Holness said it was his belief that the Jamaican people are now prepared and expect firm and decisive action in breaking the neck of the crime monster once and for all.
“I have been around the country, and everywhere I go the cry is the same — deal with the criminals. I no longer detect an ambivalence. While there is still some sympathy for the complex social justice issues that explain crime, the Jamaican people do not view poverty and lack of opportunity as an excuse for crime,” Holness said.
“There are thousands of young Jamaican men and women who are poor and without opportunity, but who continue the good struggle,” he said.
“Like the young man who I met in St Ann recently during a trip to Ocho Rios, he is learning to carve. And he and others in his community are selling craft items to a nearby attraction, earning his family and the country well-needed foreign exchange.
“Or the group of young men in my constituency who pool to promote round robin parties. They made a decision not to pursue a life of crime, regardless of how difficult their circumstances are.
“But every time a shot is fired, or someone gets robbed, or a murder is committed, the dance is locked off and permits are refused, or the cruise ships don’t send the tourists to the communities anymore.
“The economic independence of that young man from St Ann and the young men who promote dances in Olympic Gardens, their economic independence is denied. Criminals chose crime. Criminals are not Robin Hood; they rob us of our livelihood,” Holness said.
“We have a plan to secure Jamaica, and in the coming weeks aspects of the plan that can be made public will be disclosed.
“We will be creating the legislative environment to support the establishment of the rule of law in communities where it is absent and to separate criminals from communities they have captured.
“Under this framework, zones where the security forces and other government agencies will be able to conduct special long-term operations in high-crime areas, including extensive searches for guns, contraband and criminals, will be created,” Holness explained.
He said the Government has already made significant investments in increasing the country’s ability to control its maritime borders to intercept illegal shipments of guns and contraband.
He also pointed out that, while the authorities have already started to seek international support in technical and strategic areas from friendly countries, “every Jamaican must recognise that no foreign country can solve our crime problem or sponsor a solution”.

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