Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Senior cops heading to US to help stem gun flow

Published:Tuesday | February 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMGlenroy Sinclair

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is embarking on a path to further strengthen its external partnership arrangements to more tightly monitor the inflow of illegal guns which, up to Sunday, were used in at least 123 of the 160 murders reported since the start of the year.

"We will be exploiting all the opportunities," said Devon Watkis, the assistant commissioner of police in charge of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch, the unit charged with dismantling gangs, organised crime, among other things.

While not disclosing much, the assistant commissioner said the JCF was in the process of deploying several senior officers overseas to collaborate with the international partners to help improve the country's crime-fighting strategies.

In the past, senior officers were dispatched to the United Kingdom and North America to primarily focus on the illicit gun trade.

"We have had a number of successes in the past, but unlike the previous programmes, this time things will be done differently. We will be reviewing, evaluating and enhancing," said Watkis, who spoke with The Gleaner yesterday.

Up to Sunday, the JCF weekly crime statistics reflected that in the first 53 days of the year, 99 illegal guns and 849 assorted rounds of ammunition were removed from the streets of Jamaica. The list includes sixty 9mm pistols, 19 homemade guns, 15 revolvers, three rifles and two shotguns.

Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Errol Strong, who for several years was assigned at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington as the security liaison officer, told The Gleaner yesterday that the programme had tremendous success.

SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMME

"The programme at the time, according to the job description we had, was very successful. We did not work only with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), but with all the security agencies," said Strong. "It was not just working with law enforcement, but we handled deportation issues, too."

He said some of the major penal facilities were visited and the Jamaicans identified. Records were made of those incarcerated for serious offences.

"We would then pass on this information to our colleagues in Jamaica, ahead of time, so they had prior knowledge and background information on the persons who were being deported and for what crime. We were able to produce a profile of the persons who were convicted for major crimes, so they could be monitored on their arrival in Jamaica," Strong explained.

During his stint in Washington, Strong said his team maintained an active presence at the ports, collaborating with the various agencies.

glenroy.sinclair@gleanerjm.com