Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of public emergency - effective immediately - in Saint Catherine North police division on Sunday, March 18, amid a surge in violent crime since the beginning of 2018. The state of emergency is currently planned to last for 14 days, but may be extended. During the state of emergency, police and military personnel have been given the authority to search people and buildings, cut business hours, and detain individuals without a warrant. Individuals transiting in or out of Saint Catherine North on any road will reportedly be searched by security forces.
An increased police officer and military personnel presence was notably reported in Central Village, as well as in parts of Spanish Town, Bog Walk, and Linstead on Monday morning (local time). A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are expected in the coming days amid the state of emergency.
Saint Catherine North has witnessed some 49 murders since the beginning of the year through mid-March, primarily attributed to gang activity; in comparison, some 30 murders were reported in Saint Catherine North over the same period in 2017, up from 21 murders over the same period in 2016.
The area is the base of operations for the Clansman Gang, one of the largest in Jamaica.
Individuals present in Saint Catherine parish are advised to remain vigilant, follow all instructions issued by local authorities, and take basic security precautions (e.g. keep signs of wealth concealed, drive with doors locked and windows rolled up, etc.).