Crime has long plagued the beautiful island of Jamaica. Likewise, Chinese businesses have long played a major role in the country and have grown exponentially in the last few years. Up until recently, however, the country’s high crime rate had little or no impact on the Chinese businesses.
With the recent robbing and killing of Chinese businessmen in Montego Bay, Jamaica; the Chinese business community backed by the government of China has now given Jamaican police the best crime fighting tools they have ever had.
High-tech surveillance cameras equipped with facial-recognition software are being installed by Chinese business operators all around Montego Bay and the local police are already seeing success with these devices.
The devices, which can easily pick up faces up to a mile away even in heavy rain. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the cameras have also learned how to recognize faces even under a mask. As of now, it is not clear if China is doing anything nefarious with this data but it is a small price to pay for a country that is being overrun by crime.
The cameras are the latest tools in the fight against crime in Montego Bay, St James, where the robbery-weary Chinese business community has turned to the system to identify and expose the brazen robbers, who have been targeting them in several multimillion-dollar heists.
In 2018, the national closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system, better known as JamaicaEye, outlined an ambitious plan to cover the western city with an additional 300 CCTV cameras by the end of that year. However, it is unclear as to what has become of the plan and how many cameras have actually been installed across the city.
One security expert says that law abiding Jamaicans need not worry about privacy issues where the cameras are concerned as the cameras are being installed in public places all over the world. He went on to say only criminals should have fear as these cameras will be there worst nightmares.
“These cameras are highly sensitive. You could call them a law enforcer’s dream and a criminal’s nightmare,” the security expert said. “If we have Montego Bay properly blanketed with these cameras, criminals will have a hard time escaping apprehension because once an image is recorded, whenever that person is spotted again by the camera, an alert will be sent out, which should result in the person being captured by the police.”
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Police statistics reveal that up to July 4 this year, St James had recorded 58 murders, a 17.1 per cent decline when compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Shootings were also down with 65 incidents as opposed to 70 last year. Robberies (32), however, have increased, with one more case this year.
The need for high-quality surveillance cameras came into sharp focus in 2018 when the police felt that they had an air-tight case against two brothers implicated in a murder at a gas station in Glendevon, St James. However, the CCTV footage was considered poor and inconclusive and the men were freed by the court.
While not as open as the Chinese in discussing the cameras being used in Montego Bay, a police source did admit that the ones to which the police have access have been proving to be quite effective crime-fighting tools.
“What I can tell you is that these cameras have the potential to be a game-changer as it relates to properly policing Montego Bay,” the cop told 18 Karat Reggae. “The cameras we have access to have assisted us in making a number of arrests. There have been cases where men were spotted on the cameras with a bulge in their waist, and when we accosted them, it turned out that they had illegal firearms in their possession.”
It is not clear if these cameras will be installed in all high crime areas across Jamaica or only where areas where there are lots of Chinese businesses. The expert said, however, that the Jamaican government might have to come up with the money if they want the cameras installed across the island.