Millions donated to tackle crime in Portland
Faced with a sharp increase in gun-related crime and murders, the private sector, individuals, and a political representative have pledged money to assist with the purchase of two pickup trucks to assist the Portland police in their crime-fighting efforts.
At a stakeholders meeting at the Ken Wright Pier in Port Antonio on Saturday night, Government Minister Daryl Vaz announced that money will be made available to purchase the two motor vehicles needed to assist the police in carrying out patrols, especially at nights, in communities where there has been a sharp increase in criminal activity.
"Sandals group have pledged $1 million," Vaz said.
"Michael Lee Chin has also pledged $1 million towards the purchase of the units, and $500,000 has also been pledged by a private citizen. From my Constituency Development Fund (CDF), I am contributing $1 million. Crime is everybody's problem and we can no longer turn a blind eye, as it is now at our doorsteps. Criminals will not be allowed to unleash fear and mayhem on our law-abiding citizens," he added.
Earlier, Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams urged Portlanders not to allow criminals to disrupt the peace and calm of a parish, which is considered the safest islandwide. Instead, he encouraged them to report any suspicious activity that they may have witnessed to the police.
"Conditions could very well get worse if we allow criminal activities to manifest," he said.
"I remember years ago, Hanover was a safe parish, however, with the migration of new persons to that parish, gangs were formed and they became deeply rooted. Today that parish is plagued by criminal elements - creating anarchy and mayhem in the lives of its residents. The same thing could happen to Portland. I urge you not to be too receptive towards strangers and to treat them with suspicion. Support the police in any way you can, so as to ensure your safety," he continued.
The surge in crime in a parish, which once enjoyed the luxury of having no more than two murders per year, has seen 12 killings taking place since the start of this year.
And Minister of National Security, Robert Montague, said that a new initiative will be coming on stream where the police will be looking at how criminal activities begin and how it is manifested.
"Crime did not start overnight," said Montague.
"It is like an inheritance, which started with bad parenting skills, illiteracy, and also with children having children in a common-law setting. Once we have identified the problem, we will tackle its root. This will not be a success overnight, but with a collective effort from citizens and stakeholders, we will succeed."