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‘No threat’ - Several former government members to lose their security details

Published:Sunday | July 17, 2016 | 7:00 AMErica Virtue

The Police High Command has indicated that it is going to pull the bodyguards assigned to several members of the former Portia Simpson Miller-led administration.

The former government members were last week told that the police have determined that they are not facing threats that would require them to be assigned close-protection officers (bodyguards).

In a letter to those who are to lose their security details, the High Command said the best it could do for them, at this time, was that they should notify the nearest police station if they intend to travel to areas that are considered high security risk areas.

According to the High Command, a review has been conducted in regard to the personal safety of the former government members and it was determined that the threat levels are non-existent or low.

"Based on the findings of the review, several recommendations were made, one of which suggests that there is no need for a security detail to be assigned to you at this time.

"It is against this background that the close-protection officer assigned to you will be withdrawn within 14 days after receipt of this document ...," the letter to the former government members said in part.

Pulled after election

The Sunday Gleaner understands that some members of the former administration had their security details pulled shortly after the Jamaica Labour Party was elected to form the new government in February, and several persons who avoided that cut have been caught this time around.

They include former ministers Dr Wykeham McNeill, Morais Guy and Sandrea Falconer, as well as former minister without portfolio Luther Buchanan.

Former state ministers Richard Azan and Colin Fagan have also been notified that they will lose their close-protection officers.

According to Sunday Gleaner sources, two former ministers have been told that while they will be allowed to retain a security detail the number of close-protection officers will be drastically reduced.

Last week, McNeill confirmed that he had received the notification but had not yet sought clarification on the matter.

"I simply have not had the time to act on the letter. So let me make some checks and I will get back to you," said McNeill.

A similar confirmation came from Guy.

"Yes, I have been notified that the close-protection officer assigned to me will be withdrawn. But I am in no quarrel with anyone," said Guy.

The Police High Command has long signalled its intention to review the assignment of close-protection officers, and last year then Security Minister Peter Bunting told Parliament that changes were coming.

At that time Bunting, who is now the opposition spokesman on national security, indicated the close-protection officer would be assigned based primarily on security threat and risk assessments of the persons being protected.

"Except for the governor general, the prime minister, Cabinet ministers, the leader of the opposition and former prime ministers, all the assignment of close-protection officers will be based on recommendations informed by the threat assessment," said Bunting.

"Where it is revealed that threat levels are not significant, officers will be redeployed to augment the personnel at geographical divisions," added Bunting.

Efforts to get a comment from the Police High Command were unsuccessful last week as head of the VIP Protection Division, Senior Superintendent Ronald Anderson, referred our news team to Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds, who was unavailable.

Police Commissioner Carl Williams was also out of office, with sources indicating that he could be out for a short period because of a medical issue.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com