While making it clear that his government is not contemplating an island-wide state of public emergency, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared that all communities known to be under the control of dons will be ‘addressed’ – including some in the parishes of Clarendon and Westmoreland.
“The government believes that there should be no community in which criminal organizations operate as sovereign powers. Every community where it is clear that criminal organizations and dons are operating as laws onto themselves will be addressed,” he said during a press briefing on Sunday, September 23, at his offices.
The prime minister added: “…We are targeting areas where criminals operate with impunity. Westmoreland is one such area; so too are areas in Clarendon. No criminal should rest comfortably. The Government of Jamaica intends to deal with all these areas. But we are being strategic; we are being deliberate; we are employing a methodology and it is working. When we act, it has to be sustained.”
Declaring an island-wide state of emergency to help curb crime, Prime Minister Holness reasoned, would be a knee-jerk response that stretches resources thin.
“We had at no stage contemplated an islandwide state of emergency. If you are going to use the state of emergency as a knee-jerk response tool, then you could contemplate an islandwide state of emergency…”
“It is a far better approach to utilize the extraordinary powers of the state of emergency in this long-term, sustained way [as is being done] than to spread ourselves thinly across the island which would not be as effective,” Prime Minister Holness said, adding that enough resources are available to sustain the states of emergency in their limited form.
“At this point, we feel that we have enough resources to execute…”
The question as to whether a national state of emergency should be declared popped up yesterday as Prime Minister Holness announced a state of emergency in sections of Kingston and St Andrew.
There are also two pre-existing states of emergency – one in St James and the other in St Catherine North Police Division.