Interim president of the Old Harbour Chamber of Commerce (OHCC) Adrian Samuda says the body will be robust in its efforts to have closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the town.
Samuda’s comments came following a meeting with members of the chamber and the St Catherine South Police high command at Kaluga Kafe on Tuesday.
The entrepreneur said the business community is very concerned after the recent killing of a vendor in the town centre during rush hour, which is the second such homicide in just over a year within the same proximity.
“We the business people of Old Harbour are willing to assist with the purchasing of the cameras because we believe in supporting any initiative that will protect or benefit our business and the lives of the citizens of this town.
“Having listened to the police we will now be writing to the St Catherine Parish Council and the National Works Agency with a view to see how best we can expedite the installation of these cameras which is of absolute necessity given the brazen killing in the town recently,” Samuda told Old Harbour News.
This is not the first time the issue of installing CCTV cameras in the town is being raised by the OHCC. Two years ago the matter was discussed with Supt. Carl Ferguson, then commander in charge of the Old Harbour Police Division and members of the business community.
Head of the St Catherine South Division, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Noel Christie, said he’s aware that the matter was raised then but indicated that achieving this goal requires full participation of key stakeholders namely the parish council and the National Works Agency (NWA).
He’s however urging the chamber to be resolute in their approach regarding installment of the cameras, which he believes is crucial in aiding the police.
“I know when Mr. Ferguson was here he’d gone as far as doing a site inspection as to where the cameras could be positioned. But as to the latest on that I can’t give you. I can’t say why it hasn’t been tied up as yet. They (Old Harbour Chamber of Commerce) would have to be very forceful, aggressive and assertive by going to the (St Catherine) Parish Council and the NWA who will play a vital role in it,” SSP Christie said.
CCTV cameras are said to be a very important tool used in many towns and cities all over the world in the fight against crime. They act as a deterrent and are often utilized to identify perpetrators.
Meantime, Samuda is urging the police to be more assertive as he’s of the view that the town feels less safe since the departure of Superintendent David White, who now heads the Westmoreland Police Division.
“As a business person I don’t get the feeling like I could walk to the bank with a million dollars,” said Samuda. “When Mr. White was here you felt like you could walk in the town with any amount of money at any time.”
White’s militant approach to policing drew commendation as well as condemnation from the general public, as he made a successful push restoring public order in the town space, ridding the streets of illegal vending and mitigating traffic congestion.
But according to Inspector Carey Duncan, head of operations for the Old Harbour Police Division, Samuda’s perception isn’t supported by the current statistics related to serious crimes being committed in the division.
Based on data presented at the meeting by Duncan major crimes, which include murder, shooting, robbery, break-in, aggravated assault, rape and larceny, has seen a 46 per cent decline in the division up to this time of the year when compared to the corresponding period of 2015.
Duncan reported that a combined total of 35 major crimes have been committed so far this year, a massive drop when compared with the 65 recorded the same time last year. Of the serious crimes recorded up to the end of May this year seven were murders, four involved shooting, 14 robberies were logged, six break-ins took place, and there were two incidents each for rape and larceny. The corresponding numbers for the same period last year showed nine murders, six shootings, 19 robberies, 23 break-ins, two aggravated assaults, four incidents of rape and two cases of larceny.
Earlier this week the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) reported a 10 per cent decline in major crimes committed nationally between January and June 4 with the corporate area and St Catherine showing the biggest reduction.
“When Mr. White left the division I knew that he’d left a big shoe to fill,” said Duncan. “As you are already aware we have a resource issue. For the most part the vendors have been conforming by selling inside the market, which has allowed us to shift some of the resources to other areas, which I believe has contributed to the reduction in the numbers we are seeing now.”
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