Founder of the Cool Group of Companies Joe Issa, who decried Jamaica’s high murder rate last year, breathes a sigh of relief at the sharp reduction in the numbers so far this year, and suggests that top rank policemen be more involved in fighting criminals, instead of being glued to a desk.
“I am pleased with the decline in murders so far this year and all praises due. The JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) said they would be out in their numbers to contain the spate of murders island wide and they should be commended,” says Issa, adding that “more top rank officers should be out there guiding the rookies rather than sitting behind a desk…I think it will make a very big difference to the success of crime fighting in Jamaica.”
In December last year Issa lamented the high murder rate and called upon Jamaicans especially St. Ann residents to be on their guard with the Christmas shopping period approaching. The cautions came in at least two articles, suggesting that they shop online instead of taking to the busy Christmas streets where criminals lay waiting.
However, while congratulating the JCF for bringing the numbers down sharply in January this year compared with the same month last year, the Ocho Rios businessman, in the same breath berates the 100 per cent increase in St. Ann, where his Cool Corporation is headquartered making it one of just a few big businesses to locate in the garden parish.
“It’s like bitter-sweet for me: on the one hand, I am happy with the island wide reduction in murders in January this year; it’s a great improvement over January 2015. On the other hand, I am saddened by the doubling of the number of murders in my parish,” says Issa, who has been doing business in St. Ann for over 25 years and has contributed to schools and communities through his Cool Charities, a subsidiary of Cool Group.
According to the Jamaica Observer, murders dropped sharply in January this year compared with the same time in 2015. Based on the JCF report, there were 30 less murders or 29.1 per cent, coming from 103 in January 2015 to 73 in January this year.
However, St. Ann wasn’t so lucky with a 100 per cent increase in murders in January 2016 compared with 2015. Coming from three in January 2015, the number of murders rose to six in the first month this year.
The January murder figure for Jamaica was also down compared with December last year, a reduction of eight murders or 9.9 per cent, which Issa hopes constitutes a trend going forward whereby the numbers fall in each succeeding month.
“The parish of St James has the dubious position of recording the most murders of the 19 police divisions in the island so far in 2016,” the newspaper said, noting that “there were 11 murders in St James up to January 31, 2016. Clarendon is not far behind with 10 reported murders. The parishes of Portland and St Mary are the only ones not to record a murder in January 2016.”
Recently appointed Deputy Commissioner of Police, George Quallo, told the Observer that “one of the main contributing factors to the decline in murders was the strong on the ground presence of policemen and women especially members of the top rank of the organisation.”