Crime not a problem for Sumfest
The police in St James have given the assurance that although there is a crime problem in the parish, the safety and security of international and local patrons at Reggae Sumfest is guaranteed.
St James, up to last Friday, has recorded 130 murders since the start of the year, which is approximately 14 per cent more than the similar period in 2016.
However, according to head of the St James police, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Marlon Nesbeth, the safety of patrons at the annual reggae festival, which is 26 days away, is certain.
"One thing is certain, they are guaranteed to be safe because of the deployment that will be around as we normally do every year. If you notice, we have never had any issue around visitors to the island and in particular patrons of Sumfest," Nesbeth told THE STAR.
"We have never had any issue around that, and that is because they (organisers) employ a proper security coverage not only security guards and other civilian type set up, but also off-duty police officers, well-deployed, well-structured to look at various issues, not only on the site but otherwise."
The parish commander, though without substantial evidence or numbers, also pointed to a low crime history surrounding the period leading up to Reggae Sumfest.
"Over the years, I am told, and I don't have much experience around Sumfest, but am advised by my staff, as also members of the public and the promoters, that during Sumfest periods we tend to have a lower crime rate in Montego Bay. I can't draw that correlation with any empirical evidence just now, but that's what I am told," he said.
Reggae Sumfest is scheduled to run from July 16 to 22. The event kicks off on Sunday, July 16, with a beach party, and moves into the Sumfest Sunset Yacht Party on Monday, July 17, before the live shows on July 21 and 22.
Reggae Sumfest organiser, Joe Bogdanovich, told THE STAR that crime situation in the country is a national concern
"I think violence is always the concern of any citizen in Jamaica, but I think that MoBay has always welcomed the festival, and I am confident that the authorities are doing the best within their powers to secure," he said.
When asked by THE STAR if Reggae Sumfest will have to dig deeper to cover security costs, Bogdanovich said, "No, last year it was pretty rough especially four days before the festival, and we have a very good security in place."
"I think they did a very good job last year, and we are celebrating our 25th anniversary, and I think that we have certainly adequate and a very good security. I think we are very conservative on how we want to protect our patrons, and I think that what we have done in the past is very, very good," Bogdanovich added.