Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter
With the vaunted State of Public Emergency registering success in curtailing murder figures in St. James and the date for its suspension just two days away, (May 2) Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, says all 17 Councillors in the parish of St. James are clamouring for an extension.
He says, however, that he is fearful that the Parliamentary Opposition may not want to support an extension of the SOPE, as voiced by Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips last week. Dr. Phillips cited that they would not be willing to support an extension without the government presenting a long term crime plan.
“There is not a dissenting voice among the 17 elected representatives of the St. James Municipal Corporation. We are all in unison that this activity should be extended to bring the matter under more structured control so that more can be put in place to sustain the reduction in murders and shootings,”Mayor Davis explained.
He said the Government and the Opposition must see St. James as the parish which has been going through difficult times in recent years and the measures that were implemented under the State of Emergency are working and therefore, he is appealing to them to cooperate for an extension of the security measures.
“There has been a 70 percent reduction in murders in the parish and close to 60 percent reduction in shootings since January 18 when the measure was introduced. So, while the State of Public Emergency is not expected to be a long term measure, it should be given more time to afford the security forces to put a lid on the activities of violence producers in the parish. It is only fitting to ask that it be continued.”
Mayor Davis said St. James remains a parish that is too blessed to be stressed by those who are intent on making life uncomfortable and miserable.
He says for his part and that of the municipal corporation, work would continue to help to restore law and order in the parish and he was encouraging all well-thinking citizens to embrace this thrust.
The Mayor’s comments come on the heels of that of Winston Lawson, newly elected president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who while supporting the State of Public Emergency, cited the need for appropriate alternative measures and resources to be in place when the State of Public Emergency is lifted.
“We do not want it to end unless you have adequate alternatives in place. My thinking of adequate would include boots on the ground of our security forces. So if they are going to pull the state of emergency I don’t know if there can be a hybrid State of Emergency, so we would still have some boots of the soldiers to work along with the Police Force. I am saying whatever works, let us do it,” said Lawson.