We cut through the clutter to tell you some of the most important stories of the day.
SOE Clarendon and St Catherine
A state of emergency has been declared in Clarendon and St Catherine. Prime Minister Andrew Holness told journalists at a press conference Thursday that intelligence and crime data led to the need for the measure. He said since the start of 2019, the Clarendon division has recorded the second-highest number of murders at 100. The St. Catherine South division has seen an increase in murders of 50% over last year, currently recording 91 murders since the beginning of the year. While the St. Catherine North Division has had 66 murders so far this year. Prime Minister Holness declared that the Government is not using the State of Emergency as a substitute for regular policing. He said the country still faced the triple threats of guns, gangs, and dons. “The Government is not using the State of Emergency as a substitute for regular policing. What the State of Emergency does, is to provide a respite in the number of crimes in particular murders that are taking place, it helps to expand the number of law enforcement personnel that we have on the ground. It helps to restrict the free movement of the criminal enterprise and then, that gives regular policing an increased ability to do their work,” stated Prime Minister Holness.
Meantime, in initial reaction to the SOE has brought some favorable comments from stakeholders. In radio interviews, President of the St Catherine Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of May Pen have welcomed the security measure.
The Opposition PNP says the declaration of an SOE in Clarendon and St Catherine underscores the fact that the Andrew Holness administration has “no solution to the wanton criminality that has taken hold of sections of the country.” PNP Chairman and Spokesman on Security Fitz Jackson said in a release Thursday that the JCF murder statistics, especially in areas where the SoE is already in operation show that this emergency response apparatus is not a crime-fighting mechanism. “It cannot be that the government continues to turn a blind eye and allow things to fall into a deeper crisis, and then the SoE is declared. We cannot deal with the matter of national security in this way,” Mr. Jackson said.
Helping The Bahamas
A Jamaican team of soldiers and disaster preparedness personnel left the island Thursday for The Bahamas hit by category 5 Hurricane Dorian. Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Sterling is leading the team which has been deployed for an initial period of one month. They are taking supplies to sustain themselves as well as relief goods for Bahamians. Head of the JDF Lieutenant General Rocky Meade said the team will be establishing temporary bases not only for themselves but also for the Bahamian Coast Guard to help with rescue and relief. A Jamaican aircraft took members of the advanced team but a Canadian Government supplied plane is to take most of the supplies and some members of the Jamaican team. Also, the UNDP has sent members from its mission in Jamaica.
The row between the two sides of the People’s National Party — one supporting Dr. Peter Phillips and the other Peter Bunting – continue to row over the influence of money in the polls set for Saturday. Dr. Peter Phillips, on a local radio interview Thursday, repeated the comments of some of the members of his One PNP Campaign that members of the Rise United campaign team were seeking to use the money to influence the votes. The Rise team said the claims were wild and unsubstantiated and would hurt the party.
Man killed In Clarendon
Just minutes after the announcement of the State of Emergency for Clarendon and St Catherine, Thursday morning, a man was shot dead in a reported gunfight with police at Palmers Cross, Clarendon. Police were reportedly tracking a vehicle with four men aboard. When the police signaled the vehicle to stop, it was reported, the men fired on the cops. One man was shot dead.
Counting In The Bahamas
The latest reports out of Bahamas from the Minister of Health in that country, Thursday afternoon. Says at least 23 people have been confirmed dead but the number could rise by dozens more.