‘Come and talk to me’ - Cameron seeks public support as he tries to make St Andrew South a safer place
Senior Superintendent Wayne Cameron, commanding officer for the St Andrew South Police Division, says gangs and gang leaders in the area have been identified, and those men are being targeted. Presently, there are 68 gangs operating in the division that was described by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a 'very difficult division.' These gangs contribute a great deal to the crime and violence.
"In this division, we get a lot of reports of shootings and murders because this division is a division that has a lot of gangs. We have 68 gangs and 32 of those gangs were very active last year... they have been giving us the number of murders we have for the year in this division. We work hard to prevent gangsters from killing each other and killing innocent people," Cameron told THE STAR.
"We identify who the gang leaders are and we go after them. So, John Brown is leading John Brown gang ... we go for John Brown. We arrest him and put him into custody then we go back for his people ... his allies who are in the gang, the second tier leaders and so on."
Culture of silence
But to do so, the policeman says they need to be able to rely on the residents within the area. "Many residents would love to see a safer community but many of them fear gangs. And so, the culture of silence exists. We have to work hard for them to build trust in us. You really can't do a lot of work without getting information," he said.
"I tell them 'if you don't trust a policeman and don't want to talk to him, come and talk to me.' You pledge your support and secrecy to these people, because you have to get their confidence."
The senior lawman believes that the current states of public emergency (SOE) has contributed to a reduction in major crime in the division. A SOE was declared in the St Andrew South Police Division in February.
Speaking in Parliament recently, Holness said that as of July, St Andrew South has seen a four per cent reduction in murders and a 12 per cent reduction in shootings.
Cameron says "The fact that there are measures put in place by the prime minister, the disaster risk management act and the curfew ... that contributes to a quieter division."
He added that he has employed various strategies in tandem with the military in trying to dismantle the gangs. "What we do is try to dominate the space. We put police control in grids, block by block. So Payne Land for example, I dedicate a patrol there."
He holds that if the police is present, gangsters may not engage in criminal activity.
"You will find that when you go through a community like Olympic Gardens, we have broken it up into three grids. We put three patrols inside there, each controlling a grid. So, that is space domination," he related.
"We try to prevent gangsters from crossing borders. So if a gangster is in Cockburn Pen and another is in Tower Hill, what we do is to put patrols in between to create a buffer on the borders."