St. James murder record shattered
With last year's record 264 murders all ready shattered and gangsters still killing and maiming with impunity, residents in several beleaguered communities in St. James are calling for the zone of special operations (ZOSO) to be expanded from Mt. Salem into other communities, in the hope that it will stem the bloodletting.
According to Mt Salem-based businessman Errol Lamey, while it is good that his community has had no violent incidence since the ZOSO was declared on September 1, the fact that murders are continuing at such an alarming rate in other communities is a clear indication that the initiative needs to be expanded.
"To have peace in Mt. Salem and significant crime and violence in the surrounding communities is self-defeating if the aim is to stop the lawlessness in the parish," said Lamey. "If crime continues to plague the parish at the current level, it will not only keep out new investments, but could drive away the current investors."
In taking a similar position to Lamey in a recent interview, Reverend Everton Jackson, the head of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) in St James, said while ZOSO has worked in Mt. Salem, the other problem communities also required urgent attention.
"What we need is a holistic plan for St James, in order to deal with the crime situation," said Jackson. "Doing the ZOSO community by community can be effective, as we have now seen with this specific community of Mt Salem. However, the security net has to be expanded to include the so-called troubled communities with increased police presence, not just in one or two communities but in all troubled areas."
In Flankers, where an ongoing gang war has claimed several lives in recent weeks, residents are begging for a ZOSO-style intervention, arguing that the existing policing arrangement is inadequate, albeit that several known violence producers have been arrested in recent months.
"A little community like Flanker should not be having the amount of murders and shootings that we are having ... we have to be walking around like we are in a war zone," a resident told the Western Star. "If ZOSO can cool Mt. Salem it should be able to cool Flanker to so, bring on the ZOSO."
With 267 murders since the start of the year, three more than last year's record 264 committed last year, st. James is the nation's undisputed murder capital.