Cops reach out to clergy - Commissioner urges Church to continue crime-fighting efforts despite Al Miller imbroglio
Police Commissioner Carl Williams is moving to ensure that the relationship between the clergy and the Jamaica Constabulary Force is not permanently damaged by the fallout from the conviction of the Reverend Merrick 'Al' Miller.
Last Thursday, Miller was fined $1 million or 12 months in prison after being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Following the sentencing, some leading members of the clergy, including Bishop Herro Blair, warned that this could cause them to rethink their role in helping the police to bring fugitives to justice, or other measures to deal with crime.
In an almost immediate response, Williams said he has set in motion a series of activities to improve understanding between the police and the clergy in Jamaica.
According to the Police High Command, "Out of a deep concern that pastors could become less willing to work with the police in facilitating the surrender of wanted persons, or to be intermediaries in the handover of illegal firearms, Williams is acting to ensure that there are no ambiguities in relation to how the clergy and police should operate in these situations."
The high command said Williams has ordered the speedy completion of protocols that will serve to guide both police and members of the clergy in facilitating the surrender of wanted persons or persons of interest, and the handling of illegal firearms to be handed over to the police.
Williams has reportedly contacted Blair to discuss the matter and to invite him to a meeting to discuss the draft protocols.
"An invitation was also extended to the Umbrella Group of Churches to review the draft protocols in order to contribute to its further development," added the high command.
Williams has also urged members of the clergy to adhere strictly to the guidelines for the safe handover of persons and/or illegal firearms.
"Dr Williams has also had discussions with the president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, the Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, and is encouraged by (his) invitation to work jointly with the police to train clergymen to enable an improved understanding of how to proceed in these matters.
"The commissioner notes that the Church presides (over) the largest constituency in Jamaica and has a great deal of influence, and as such, church leaders are indispensable to the effort to unite the people in defeating the common enemy, crime.
"In this regard, the commissioner acknowledges the clergy's invaluable support and their contributions to programmes such as the Get the Guns initiative, Unite for Change, and the Proactive Violence Interruption Strategy," said the high command.