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Police Commish moves to improve understanding between police and clergy

Published:Saturday | September 17, 2016 | 9:39 PM
Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams says he has ordered the speedy completion of protocols to guide police personnel and members of the clergy in facilitating the surrender of wanted persons and the handing-over of illegal firearms.

The Police High Command is seeking to ease concerns among members of the clergy following the corruption conviction of the Reverend Merrick ‘Al’ Miller.

Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams says he has ordered the speedy completion of protocols to guide police personnel and members of the clergy in facilitating the surrender of wanted persons and the handing-over of illegal firearms. 

Reverend Miller was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Thursday to a fine of $1 million or 12 months in prison.

The popular pastor was charged after drug kingpin Christopher Dudus Coke was captured in a vehicle he was driving along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine, ending a nationwide manhunt.

He has maintained that he was taking Coke to surrender to authorities.

Following his sentencing, Bishop Herro Blair cautioned religious leaders to rethink the way they work with the police to facilitate the peaceful surrender of criminal suspects and persons of interest.

However, in a statement today, the Police Commissioner explained that the proposed protocol is among a series of activities being undertaken by the Jamaica Constabulary Force to improve understanding between its members and religious leaders who seek to assist the police.

He says the activities are being undertaken out of a deep concern that pastors could become less willing to work with the police to facilitate the surrender of wanted persons or to be intermediaries in the handover of illegal firearms.

Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner is also reaching out to religious leaders to hold discussions on the proposed protocol.

Williams says he has invited Bishop Blair and members of the Umbrella Group of Churches to a meeting to review the proposed guidelines and hear their suggestions.

He says he has also had discussions with President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, the Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, who has offered to work jointly with the police to train clergymen to improve their understanding of how to handle the handing-over of wanted men.

The commissioner appealed to members of the clergy to adhere to the protocols whenever they are implemented.

He says the actions are being taken to ensure that there are no ambiguities in relation to how the clergy and police should operate in these situations.