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WEST KINGSTON ENQUIRY: Senior cops says pursuing Tivoli gunmen was not the plan

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 11:44 AMLivern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

The senior police officer charged with crafting the tactical plan for the May 2010 operations in Tivoli Gardens says going after the more than 300 heavily-armed gunmen who were assembling in the west Kingston community would divert attention from the main objective of capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Deputy Commissioner Clifford Blake was testifying this morning before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, which has already heard evidence that from as early as March 2010 hundreds of rifle-toting gunmen – lured by a bounty of upwards of $30,000 each – began converging on Tivoli Gardens to repels any attempts by the security forces to capture Coke.

Responding to questions from attorney-at-law Deborah Martin, who is representing the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Blake said going after those guns "would cause us [the police] to lose sight of the main objective", which was the safe capture of Coke.

"If you are developing a plan you don't want to prematurely execute that plan. You want to properly develop a plan that would allow us to safely arrest Coke", he underscored.

The three-member commission has heard evidence that members of the security forces encountered fierce resistance from armed thugs when the operations began on May 24, 2010.

When it ended more than 70 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed.