National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, says the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in St James will not be indefinite.
“The primary purpose of the SOE is to reduce [crime and violence, particularly murders]. The SOE is, however, not something you can maintain forever in a community and, in fact, the shorter the time you have it, the better off you [the public] are,” he stated.
The minister was responding to concerns raised by entertainment industry stakeholders in the parish regarding what they said was the SOE’s impact on their engagements, during a meeting at Pier One in Montego Bay yesterday.
Chang cited the Suppression of Crime Act, extensive utilisation of which, he argued, “not only became negative, it changed the habit of the law enforcement officers”.
“We don’t want to do that at this point… we have come a long way,” he further contended.
The minister said the SOE has, nonetheless, proved effective in breaking the murder cycle wherever it has been implemented, in addition to reducing violence while engendering more effective policing.
Chang indicated that this is being supported by other initiatives such as job creation for young people which, he emphasised remains a major focus of the Government.
Meanwhile, the minister underscored the need for “a legitimate framework for entertainment [so] that [patrons] can conduct themselves [appropriately] without getting into violent activities”.
“We need the opportunity for young people to get into other kinds of activity [as well] and we need to get the communities organised [under the SOE],” he further stated.
Chang also encouraged event promoters across St James to form a unified body that will have a greater voice as well as help to better streamline the application for permits to stage engagements.