Commish, Church hit out against surrender to extortion

December 06, 2016
Elder Omar Ricketts prays for Sonia McDonald (centre), mother of two of the persons killed in the March Pen community in October.
Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams
Norman Scott

The Church said it's fed up with crime in and around the Old Capital, Spanish Town, and has come out swinging against members of the business community who pay extortion.

Pastor Robert Rainford of the Greendale United Church made it clear that extortion must be tackled now.

"We have realised how extortion has been crippling the business community. We are also aware that it is causing a number of the killings that we are having in and around Spanish Town. Therefore, we need strong, responsible leadership which is determined to tackle it once and for all," Rainford said.

He was speaking at a stakeholders meeting at the Greendale United Church in St Catherine yesterday. Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams, Mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott, and Dennis Robothom, president of the St Catherine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were among those in attendance.

During the meeting, he requested that leaders should declare that they will not mix with criminals.

While persons echoed his views, others place the problem at the feet of the police.

"Most businesses have cameras installed. We are trying to get on board in a meaningful way to deal with extortion. Most weekends, if you go to the business operated by some Chinese, you can easily identify the extortionists as they come to collect," Robotham said.

Robotham said more police operations are needed in Spanish Town.

"At several meetings that we have had with the police, we have asked that they use undercover personnel to help and minimise the problem, and it is not happening," he said.

Scott said the police need to be more active and strategic in their crime-fighting efforts. He pointed, for example, to an incident in the Old Capital two months ago where a man was shot. He said that the incident was caught on tape, but police investigators are yet to retrieve that piece of evidence.




"The police can do more. As in the case of motor vehicles, it is mostly those that park on the road that are being extorted. The police need to deal with it. For example, about two months ago, we have, on camera, an employee been shot. The police promised to collect the tape, and this is yet to be done," Scott said.

Williams said the business operators, the clergy, and the politicians all need to work together to tackle criminals.

"We must all share the blame, as we see and do nothing," Williams said.

"We must know that if it is not stopped by the people, then there will be more March Pen Road-type of crimes ... . It is no secret that extortion causes many untimely deaths. This is because gang members are fighting for leadership so that they can enrich themselves and drive fear into communities," Williams said.

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