The Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Denham Town, Kingston, and Mount Salem, St. James, will be extended by a further 60 days.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 16) approved two Resolutions for the extensions, which were moved by National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
In his brief remarks, Dr. Chang said the ZOSOs “continue to provide the basis on which meaningful long-term development changes and transformational activities within some of Jamaica’s most troubled communities can take place”.
He noted that this has been largely manifested through the effective partnerships and commitment of all sectors – public and private and non-governmental organisations.
“As we continue into the build phase for both Denham Town and Mount Salem we will endure for as long as it takes to ensure that through this comprehensive approach [sustained] transformation takes place and the residents can enjoy a peaceful and improved physical environment,” Dr. Chang said.
Citing the case of Mount Salem, which was the first ZOSO, the Minister said the community has been fully transformed.
“I take the opportunity to thank the security forces, the social services providers, all the hard-working men and women in the field for their dedication and commitment in the implementation of this particular project, which the Government looks forward to expanding to a number of other areas throughout Jamaica,” Dr. Chang said.
“It is this combined work of the security force, other ministries, department and agencies of government that will lead to the desired restoration of self-respect and dignity among the residents of these communities and the other communities that we look towards establishing such zones in the near future,” he added.
Attorney General and West Central St. James Member of Parliament, Marlene Malahoo Forte, in her contribution said that the ZOSOs are bringing positive change to communities.
“Every day that I go into the Mount Salem ZOSO, as I did last weekend, I see the difference. The transformation is taking place not only in the physical built environment but also in the attitude and responses of the people,” she pointed out.
The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act gives the Prime Minister power to declare an area a ZOSO in order to tackle increased crime and volatility. This is in consultation with the National Security Council.
A zone can only be established after the Police Commissioner and the Chief of Defence Staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the Prime Minister.
The areas are designed to reduce crime and violence through community development, while providing equal opportunity to social intervention and social transformation initiatives within these communities.