Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, while declaring that there is no “magic bullet” to fix the increasing and brazen bloodletting in Central Kingston and other crime-plagued communities, has expressed confidence that the newly declared Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) will slow the bloodshed in Parade Gardens in the division.
The operation, which was declared this morning, is also expected to affect Rose Gardens, Allman Town, and downtown Kingston, as well as sections of East Kingston. It will remain in place for 60 days.
Fuelled by a gang feud between two main gangs in the division since last year, Kingston Central recorded 79 murders in 2021- a 55 per cent increase when compared to 2020, and the second-highest increase in murders across all police divisions.
Additionally, Parade Gardens, which accounted for 16 of those deadly attacks, is currently ranked among the top ten communities with the highest murders across the country.
Speaking at a press conference this morning to announce the implementation of the ZOSO, Chang said that despite the institution of intense police activities in the division, which has resulted in several gang leaders being arrested and the migration of several others out of the community, there is still a need for further intervention.
“The hostility is intense and persistent," he said.
“The brazenness of criminals in this area is reflected in the cowardly attack that took the life of a 10-year-old Jezariah Tyrell a few days back, but immediately after a [48-hour] curfew in the very same community as a result of that event, there was killing almost the very next day as the police moved out of the curfew activities,” Chang said.
As a result, Chang said the situation in Central Kingston demands special security measures, such as the use of the ZOSO that will not only immediately reduce the homicide rates, restore a sense of safety and normalcy, but will also provide the foundation for a complete transformation of the community, which requires special social investment.
"The government has been clear that we are not relying on any one tool to secure Jamaica. We will utilise all available to restore order, public safety and remove violence from communities, legislative, as well as security measures," he added,
But at the same time, Chang said: “There is no magic bullet, and it will not work overnight. The ZOSO is particularly a long-term to medium-term activity, but there is the benefit of immediate reduction of homicides in those areas, the objective is to save lives, restore order and pursue transformative activities.”