Tue | Jul 17, 2018

former security minister to keep his police bodyguard

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Robert Montague

The police bodyguard assigned to former National Security Minister Dwight Nelson will remain in place.

Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams gave that assurance yesterday even as he indicated that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) would continue to assess the threat level for persons now assigned police bodyguards or close-protection officers (CPOs).

Hours before Williams' assurance, Nelson, who had responsibility for the security portfolio during the former Bruce Golding administration, took to the social media network Facebook with claims that his CPO had been removed.

"As a former minister of national security, the PNP [People's National Party] assigned me one security officer. Now that the JLP [Jamaica Labour Party] has one [sic], they have removed him, leaving me defenceless," Nelson wrote on his Facebook account.

National Security Minister Robert Montague chided his predecessor for going public with the claim before explaining, through his Facebook account, that he did "some checks" and found that "instructions were given, it is said, for your [Nelson] detail to be removed".

"Hon(ourable) Minister, I should have been called," Montague wrote.

Up to late yesterday, Williams said that he was not aware that Nelson's CPO had been removed.

"I will have to find out from my people, but Mr Nelson's CPO will remain. I can tell you that," the police chief insisted.

In January last year, then national security minister Peter Bunting announced that the deployment of personnel at the VIP Protection Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force was being reviewed.

Bunting, who was speaking in the House of Representatives, revealed that the 544 personnel division assigned approximately 50 per cent of its staff as CPOs to protect 172 officials, including Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, judges, magistrates, and the holders of some public office.

He noted also that over many years, the JCF had deviated from the criteria used to assign CPOs to VIPs and said that this caused a significant growth in the VIP Protection Division.

"This significant deployment must be balanced against the reality that there are several police stations unable to adequately cover their police districts because fewer than 10 officers staff them," he said.

Yesterday, the police commissioner declined to comment on the outcome of the review announced by Bunting, saying that it would be inappropriate and unprofessional to discuss it in the media.

He also shot down suggestions that Nelson would automatically be assigned a CPO because he had served as national security minister. "People have CPOs based on the level of threat against them. That is what we use to determine the people who have CPOs," he underscored.