August Town aiming for murder free 2018


January 08, 2018
Ian Allen/Photographer Residents of August Town in St Andrew, marched while celebrating peace in their community early last year.
Ian Allen/Photographer Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) greets reggae star Sizzla Kalonji during a march for peace by residents of August Town. Looking on is Member of Parliament of St Andrew East Fayval Williams. The Sizzla Youth Foundation played a big role as August Town celebrated a murder free 2016.

Although an air of tense calm currently hangs over sections of August Town following the murder of a well-known member of the community on December 29, 2017, Inspector Stephen Taylor, sub-officer in charge of the August Town Police Station, still harbours hopes of replicating the murder-free year they had in 2016.

When he took command of the area that year, Taylor says having numerous community meetings with different groups and residents on street corners resulted in zero murders.

However, in 2017, 12 murders were recorded in the St Andrew community, which he attributed to persons becoming too comfortable following their efforts the previous year.

"To be frank with you, all the persons that were involved in all of these meetings, they just get relaxed, so all of this happened. But with all of this, for last year a great percentage of these murders were as a result of domestic disputes," he told THE STAR. "Out of the 12, nine of those murders are domestic disputes, so we are trying to have programmes that teach people how to deal with their differences."

But Taylor said they will be revisiting the approach they took in 2016, although the early indications are that achieving no murders this year may be a challenge due to potential flare-ups.


"It is a bit hard right now, because the last murder that took place (suggests) reprisal is eminent, because the persons that was killed has a gangster background and persons won't take it lying down," he said.

Meanwhile, councillor for the area, Venesha Phillips, noted that there are several ongoing feuds that she hopes do not spill over into other sections, as it is the aim for August Town to become totally crime-free.

"It is always our desire that we will have zero murder in any year; not just zero murder, but zero crime, because the fact that we don't have persons being shot does not mean gunshots are not being traded," she said. "What we want to do is silence the guns to be able to bring an end to these gangs and what they have been doing to the community," she told THE STAR.

However, she believes that to prevent an escalation in violence, the police need more human and technical resources.

"Certainly having more boots on the ground would be very helpful, having effective motor vehicles, having patrols ... is probably what is needed to prevent the continued assault on each other that these guys continue to perpetuate," Phillips said.

She recounted one instance where a patrol team was hampered by a shortage of personnel.

"There was one particular instance where two gangs were at it and the police intervened, and they both took on the police," Phillips said.

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