Fighting Serious Crime with ZOSO
It is little consolation for the victims in Dominica, but it is a fact that serious crime, especially murders, is WAY ABOVE Dominica's for other Caribbean countries like Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, St. Kitts. Antigua, etc The first two are among the WORST in the world – and NOTHING NEAR ours even when considered PROPORTIONALLY to Dominica's rate – despite what a UWI academic here tried to suggest some years ago on talk radio.
In fact, the current stats for Jamaica are very damning. The island has been reeling from an intense and sustained increase in murders which now total over 1,000 for 2017, an average of MORE than three a day! The crime wave has understandably created much anxiety among Jamaicans, especially as last month saw the highest number of murders yet for the year – the most since the 2010 security operations in Tivoli Gardens.
Needless to say, The Jamaica government could not help but be seriously concerned – and its response to date is worthy of note. On the 1st of this month, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the first "Zone of Special Operations" (ZOSO) to be established in a district near Montego Bay, an area where gang warfare has been steadily increasing over the past three years. It was in mid-July that the Governor-General signed off on MAJOR REFORM legislation entitled he Zones of Special Operations - Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017.
In essence, the Act allows the prime minister, on the advice of the National Security Council, to declare ANY high-crime area of Jamaica (often due to gang and drug lords activity…) a "zone for special security operations and community development measures." Though not envisaged as permanent, cordons and curfews will be important features of the ZOSOs. Another key provision of the new law is for a "Social Intervention Committee" (Community Policing?) to be established in each ZOSO that will assess conditions in the zone, including physical infrastructure, health conditions, housing and other social amenities.
There was a useful six-week pause after the innovative legislation was passed following an intense 12-hour debate. Parliament then went into recess, while security forces underwent training for ZOSO. While some questions remain regarding aspects of the plan that have not yet been implemented, ZOSO (which immediately established the "expected" social media presence) shared details about substantial rewards for the recovery of weapons, ammunition and for information on wanted men. ZOSO also cleverly shared photos of one notorious district interacting well with security forces. Nice touch! But will ZOSO ultimately provide the desired results!