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Commish defends move to have FBI 'set up shop' in Jamaica

Published:Friday | September 23, 2016 | 9:00 AMJason Cross
Police Commissioner Carl Williams

Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams has dismissed any idea that the independence of local law enforcement as they tackle concerns around crime and public safety might be compromised by the establishment of an official base for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the United States (US) Embassy in Kingston.

Williams was speaking on Wednesday during the US Embassy's handover of new non-lethal weapon kits to the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the Twickenham Park Police Academy in St Catherine.

"The recent establishment of a permanent office of the FBI in Jamaica has been making the rounds in the media and has generated a great deal of public interest," the commissioner said.

"I have even heard suggestions about the issue of sovereignty and that Jamaica must develop its own capacity to deal with our crime and public-safety issues."

Partnerships needed

He added: "I want to disabuse us all of any notion that the independence of Jamaican law enforcement will be compromised in any way by our partnership with the FBI or any other international law enforcement agencies represented in Jamaica. In fact, we urgently need these partnerships. The more of them we have, the merrier."

Williams noted that law enforcement agencies worldwide were becoming more dependent on both local and international partnerships to investigate and dismantle international criminal networks.

"Criminals cooperate with each other to commit crimes, and law enforcement must do the same to defeat them. International law enforcement cooperation is the best way to pursue criminals who, in committing their crimes, show no concern for national or jurisdictional boundaries," he said.

Williams continued: "We are plagued by high levels of violence, which is frequently [committed] by persons living outside of our shores - in the United Kingdom, Canada, and, of course, in the US. Some of the gang violence we are experiencing in May Pen, west Kingston, Montego Bay, and, more recently, in Spanish Town, has been influenced one way or another by gang members living in the US. Our investigations show many instances in which murders and other acts of violence committed in Jamaica were done at the behest of gang members living in cities in the US."

Another big issue Williams raised was Jamaica's participation in lottery scamming, about which he said the Counter-Terrorism and Oraganised Crime Investigation Branch has already started working closely with FBI agents.

"We are all too familiar with the problems that we experience daily with the lottery scam, particularly in western Jamaica," the commissioner said.

"Within the next few days, we will relaunch the lottery scam task force in western Jamaica, and I am pleased with the timing of the FBI setting up shop in Jamaica. We experience half of lottery scamming here in Jamaica as the other half, which involves the fleecing of entire life savings of hapless victims, takes place in the US."

Said Williams: "It will require collaboration with the FBI to effectively stop the problem. The FBI, with its vast experience in the area and expertise, is perhaps the best partner we could ever hope to have to tackle international terrorism and prevent mass violence. Our local counter terrorism and organised crime branch, CTOC, has already been put in touch with the new FBI agent. Within the last few days, I have had a meeting with the new agent to welcome him to Jamaica. The JCF is undaunted by the challenges. We are confident that we shall prevail."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com