A state of emergency initially declared in the North Police Division of Saint Catherine parish on March 18 amid a surge in violent crime has been extended until July 3. The Jamaican parliament approved the measure on March 27.
During the state of emergency, police and military personnel are 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 may be searched by security forces.
According to the government, the measures have had a major impact on security conditions, with no murders or other major crimes reported in the area since the state of emergency came into effect. Increased security measures have also been reported in Saint Catherine South.
A state of emergency is also in effect in Saint James parish and is currently set to expire on May 2. A 70 percent decline in murder rates has been reported there since the state of emergency came into effect on January 18.
Saint Catherine North witnessed 48 murders from January 1 to March 17; to compare, a total of 136 murders was reported in all of 2017 in the area. The spike in violence has been attributed to fighting between rival factions within the Clansman gang.
Individuals present in Saint Catherine and Saint James parishes, and Jamaica more generally, 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.).