Hanover, according to Wikipedia, is a parish located on the northwestern tip of the island of Jamaica. It is a part of the County of Cornwall, bordered by St James in the east and Westmoreland in the south. With the exception of Kingston, it is the smallest parish on the island. Hanover is the birth parish of Sir Alexander Bustamante, Labour leader, first head of government of Jamaica under Universal Adult Suffrage, and one of seven Jamaican National Heroes. Percival James Patterson is also the other native of the parish who has risen to become Prime Minister. The capital of Hanover is Lucea, but Hopewell to the east and Green Island to the west both have fast-growing populations.
Since the start of the year, the parish of Hanover has been under siege by criminal elements that have used the gun to kill and maim each other, sending the once quiet parish’s murder figures through the roof. Murders are taking place right across the parish and no community is exempt. However it is the Sandy Bay Division that has been seeing an upsurge in these heinous crimes. In a parish once known for its peacefulness, crime and violence have instilled fear in the general citizenry. How did the parish come to this?
Criminals are no longer fearful of cops, they carry their guns around with impunity and shoot and kill without fear. This has been the situation for the last few years, but the start of this year is the worst I have ever seen it. Superintendent of Police, Sharon Beeput, commanding officer for Hanover, must, by her actions, prove that she is up for the job and if she is not, she should ask the Police High Command to find a suitable replacement to carry out the job of chief police officer for the parish. When criminals can come into Hopewell square and shoot two individuals on separate days, at peak hours, it speaks volumes to the deployment of police personnel in the parish. It is plain to be seen that the criminal elements have no respect for the police because if they did, they would not carry their guns so openly into these public spaces.
Then, to add insult to injury, it is quite obvious that the number of police personnel that should be deployed at the respective police stations have not been deployed. The station at Sandy Bay is vastly underutilized as it relates to personnel, with many of the patrols that are being carried out in the division being undertaken by police patrol units from Lucea. In a rural parish such as Hanover, policing needs a personal touch and whilst residents value the service of police patrol teams in jumping out of jeeps, they also value good, old time policing where they can go to the station and interact with police officers.
In all of the killings and shootings, I am yet to hear Superintendent Beeput’s voice making public statements to the residents of Hanover reassuring them that they will be safe. This is made further evident by the measures she has been implementing to curb the killings. Many who read this column know the respect that I have for Miss Beeput, so much so that she was given this writer’s Female Leader of the Year award; but as a resident and investor in the parish, I speak truth to power and the truth is she needs to step up her game. If she cannot, then the police high command will need to find someone else to do the job. It is as simple as that. We cannot have persons being murdered left, right and centre and the crime-fighting head is quiet.
Superintendent Beeput must know that there is a place for community policing and a place for hardcore crime fighting. Is she up for the latter? The police high command should also know that they should give the Hanover Police the tools they need to fight crime. It’s sad that police vehicles are still running out of gas and police vehicles are still grounded because there are no parts to fix them. There is also shortage of uniform, and an acute shortage of stationery, which in some cases see officers searching frantically to locate a sheet or sliver of paper to write a statement and collect reports.
It is heartrending when communities such as Bamboo, Old Pen, Cold Spring, Pondside and Rock Spring have now become flashpoint areas where criminal elements are fighting internal battles; you know that we are facing serious problems because these are among the most peaceful communities in Hanover. Hanover can do better and Superintendent Beeput must lead from the front or come out of the driver’s seat. Fighting crime is not a laughing matter. Hanover needs better; we can fight this rime monster. What we need is leadership. Enough said.
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