Jamaica Observer / MONTEGO BAY, St James — Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Homer Davis is calling on the Opposition to support the extension of the state of public emergency in St James. “Let’s hope that the Opposition see it fit to partner with the Government in extending this state of emergency in St James,” Mayor Davis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“What is happening in Montego Bay as it relates to the extension of the state of emergency, it is not a political issue, it is a bipartisan issue. Members of the People’s National Party want an extension, members of the Jamaica Labour Party want an extension, persons that are not affiliated to no political party are saying to me, ‘Mr Mayor, I expect you to drive this cause for us that we need an extension’.”

On Saturday, Member of Parliament for St James West Central Marlene Malahoo Forte says she will be taking a strong message to Parliament this week to get the full support of the House of Representatives for a second extension of the enhanced security measures in St James.

In May, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to extend the state of public emergency in St James by an additional 90 days, which comes to an end on August 2.

But, Malahoo Forte, who is also the attorney general, argued that there is word that the Opposition may not want to support a further extension.

“We hear the Opposition saying they are not so sure they want to extend it and I ask myself why is it there is disagreement about continuing something that is taking us in the right direction?” the MP said during a ceremony to launch Emancipation and Independence Day activities in St James on Saturday.

In the meantime, the Montego Bay mayor noted that there has been a radical reduction in the number of murders recorded in the parish since the state of emergency was declared in the parish on January 18, the gains of which should not be reversed.

“When I spoke to the Police High Command on the weekend, up to the 14th of July, there were 52 murders in St James since the start of the year; and I must point out that it is 52 murders too much. But when you put that against last year at the same time there were 157 murders. In other words, this year we have 105 murders less up to July 14,” the mayor stated.

In fact, Davis, who is also the chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation, argued that the current nosedive in murders augurs well, not only for the parish, which ended 2017 on 335 murders, but the national figures which recorded 1,616 murders last year.

“I just use my own calculations and if we continue on this same trajectory, not saying we are getting into predicting murder statistics, what I am saying based on what is happening now, we might end up with 100 murders in St James or probably less. But if we end up with 100 murders in St James, we would be 235 murders less than last year, which would give us somewhere in the region of about 65, 68 per cent in reduction in murder for one parish, which is the parish of St James,” he reasoned.

“And if you juxtapose that with the national average, you might be looking at 15, 22 per cent (reduction) in the national homicide rate. So I am saying that based on what I am getting, it is important for the security forces to be given the authority to continue, because when I speak with them, they are saying that we need some more time.”

— Horace Hines

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