Wed | Feb 19, 2020

PNP to resurrect Operation Kingfish, says Phillips

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:06 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

People’s National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips has vowed that the next government formed by his party will resurrect the now-defunct Operation Kingfish as part of the arsenal to crack down on criminals.

Speaking with The Gleaner at the end of his party’s National Executive Council meeting at the Montego Bay Community College on Sunday, the PNP president argued that the original mandates of Operation Kingfish and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency should be reimplemented – that is, going after significant actors in organised crime – suggesting that the latter unit had veered off message.

“We would revisit operations like Operation Kingfish, and the original [formation of] MOCA, which went out to identify the kingfishes of criminality, the leading proponents of violence, and to bring them to book, to prepare cases against them so we can take them out of commission and a host of other things as well,” he said.

Phillips made the revelation in response to the announcement of a new state of emergency in the Kingston East Police Division on Sunday.

Operation Kingfish, the much-heralded police anti-crime initiative launched in 2004 and mandated to go after the major players in organised crime, was quietly disbanded and its functions transferred to other units within the police force.

MOCA was formed in June 2012 as an elite unit focused on bringing high-value targets to justice and to improve governance and security in Jamaica by tackling transnational organised crime.

“We would do things like hotspot policing. We would go not just in the areas with states of emergency, but wherever you have this kind of upsurge or presence of potential violent criminal activity. We would be going out there and focusing on those areas, putting in police posts,” Phillips said.

Phillips, who is also the opposition leader, said that a PNP administration would arrest the wave of violence by being a step ahead of criminals.

“We would also be doing what we call anticipatory policing, when you can tell by your intelligence that there is likely to be an upsurge, to go in there pre-emptively to address those needs,” said the PNP president.

“We would also be placing a lot more energy on long-term social interventions in these areas that are producing violent criminals to try to separate the criminal from the community and bring the community over to peace,” said Phillips, who chastised the Holness administration for having no cure for crime but the imposition of SOEs.

“We have always felt that there is a better way than states of emergency – that you need to have more effective utilisation of the existing powers, that you need to have a range of intervention both on the policing side and also on the social intervention side, coupled with the problems of resocialising young men in schools.”

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