Major crime dips in Kingston Central - Williams credits ZOSO, community policing
Commander for the Kingston Central Police Division, Superintendent Berrisford Williams, has credited the declaration of a zone of special Operations (ZOSO) in Parade Gardens as one of their factors behind the decrease in serious crimes in the area he commands.
Murders dipped by 39 per cent in 2022 when compared with the previous year. At the same time, shootings fell by 41 per cent.
Williams, who took over the division on January 3, 2022, said that overall, there was a 17 per cent reduction in serious crimes when compared with the previous year.
Nationally, murders increased by two per cent in 2022, while shootings dropped eight per cent. There was an overall one per cent increase in serious crimes.
"The ZOSO in the Parade Gardens space contributed significantly to the decreasing numbers. For 2021, murders and shootings recorded 22 each in the space (44 overall). The result for 2022 was nil," Williams pointed out.
A ZOSO was declared in Parade Gardens in January 2022 due to rampant criminality, gang warfare and escalating violence in the community.
Williams said that his division ended 2022 with a 71 per cent clear-up rate of the cases that were investigated. He revealed that officers assigned to the Kingston Central CIB arrested and charged 40 persons for murder, including the five teenagers who allegedly set a homeless man on fire at Heroes Circle last August.
Williams said that diligent investigative work and community policing have been critical elements of his plan to make Kingston Central a safer police division.
"We are going in the right direction," Williams said confidently.
The senior crime-fighter, however, noted that partnerships has been important in helping the police to regain control of a space that has been plagued with gang activities. He pointed, for example, to Project STAR, a social and economic transformation initiative created by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).
"We are particularly happy because the then PSOJ head, Mr Keith Duncan, was integrally involved in coming into the community, walking, dialogue with residents, and we have started to see the benefits of that," Williams said.
Despite the successes of 2022, Williams said he was very much aware that the work was far from complete, particularly the black-eye that his division suffered when then inmate Rudolph 'Boxer' Shaw escaped custody in October.
Shaw, now deceased, was listed as St Catherine's most wanted, and was being held at the Kingston Central police lock-up at the time of the incident.
"I won't say a whole lot on that investigation. It is being led by IPROB (Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau), and as we speak here, I would be included in the persons being investigated for that. One thing I can say though, that the persons who were working at the lock-up facility on the day in question have been sent on interdiction, pending the outcome of the investigation. In addition to that, we consistently look at persons working at the lock-ups, and there is now ongoing repairs to further strengthen the lock-up facilities, so that we can have that issue dealt with going forward," Williams said.