Crime, cops and corruption
The following are excerpts of a presentation to the House of Representatives by Minister of National Security Robert Montague on Tuesday, January 22.
It is a fact that during the year 2017, 1,616 persons were murdered in Jamaica and there were 1,469 shootings. However, it is also true that we had significant reductions in the other five major crime categories and collected 859 illegal firearms and 21,764 rounds of ammunition.
While we continue to be concerned, and rightly so, about the level of murders, we should not allow that to cause us not to recognise the combined efforts of all the stakeholders in the security sector that have resulted in substantial declines in five of the seven major categories of crime.
Notwithstanding the gains, as minister, I am the first to admit that while we are heartened, we are still not satisfied.
State of emergency in St James
Mr Speaker, since the start of the year, we have continued to see an unacceptable trend in the country's murder rate. Naturally, some have become fearful and frightened. This is not lost on the Government and as such, we have declared a state of emergency in St James to treat with the situation.
The security operations, which are in their very early stage, are going very well.
So far, the state of emergency has resulted in the detention of 197 persons and the seizure of four firearms and approximately 30 rounds of ammunition. Among the 197 persons detained are 10 men wanted for serious crimes, including murder and shooting.
The security forces have also advised that 83 of the 197 persons detained are strongly believed to be connected to gangs in St James.
Let me hasten to point out that the declaration of a state of emergency is not a panacea. It is not a cure-all to our problems. It is meant to cauterise the situation while providing the space for other sustainable interventions. Let me remind this honourable House that it took us decades to get here and it will not be addressed overnight. In addition to the efforts of the security forces, it will require significant inputs from all facets of our society to sustainably address the problem.
Mr Speaker, we are aware that criminal elements will attempt to flee St James to neighbouring parishes. As such, a number of operations are being conducted across the island in support of the state of emergency in St James. These operations are in an effort to apprehend wanted men who may have eluded the main area of operation.
Palisadoes strip 2018
Mr Speaker, we can all agree that the well publicised Palisadoes matter represents an unfortunate series of events which must never recur. As a result, the country suffered reputational damage, and there were whispers of legal action against the country by some individuals and entities alike.
Many have offered their opinion on the tone of a particular public statement that I had issued. Mr Speaker, in retrospect and after reviewing the press release and the totality of the circumstances, I have concluded that the whole matter could have been handled differently.
Ministerial interference in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF)
Mr Speaker, I note the recent concerns expressed in relation to ministerial interference in operational matters of the JCF, particularly following the Palisadoes matter. However, I must use this opportunity to strenuously point out that my sole reason for demanding answers on behalf of the public in that matter is to foster a culture of accountability within the security portfolio that I have the privilege of leading.
Amid the chatter, the real lesson that must be learnt is that people in positions of responsibility must be held to account. The JCF is a command-and-control organisation. Accountability is one of the standards of the Force. The public expects it and the rules governing the institution demand it.
Sir, I have been accused of interfering in the distribution of cars meant for the JCF. Sir, I took to the Office of the Commissioner a list of vehicles compiled by the ministry and asked if they could be accommodated. On the list were five vehicles for St Elizabeth which reflects requests from members of parliament Floyd Green; J.C. Hutchinson; Frank Witter and Evon Redman.
This list was compiled based on calls received from custodes, MP's, organisations and citizens themselves, including me. The list was also compiled following an appeal for more vehicles at a meeting in St Elizabeth by Superintendent Catherine Lord, commanding officer and chairman of the Police Officers Association (POA). I informed Miss Lord that I do not assign vehicles as that is the job of the commissioner.
If I were assigning cars, would I not assign to my own parish?
Crime and ocult in Jamaica
Mr Speaker, over the last couple of months, we have discovered a most disturbing trend of which you must be aware. We have been discovering 'altars' to facilitate devil worship in many places where raids have been conducted by the security forces. This is a most dangerous trend and the clergy is also disturbed by it.
Sir, the savagery, the brutality and horrific nature of some crimes point to sacrifices to these evil forces. Sir, almost a year ago, I made a flippant comment suggesting that my uncle was an obeah man. It was meant to be a joke, but many persons were not amused. They were offended, and rightly so. I want to apologise for the remark and the offensiveness it has caused, and to give the assurance and publicly state that I am not into devil or evil worship in no way, shape or form!
I worship one God! The one and only true God that reigns, forgives and sustains! I am not into devil worship. Some people are playing with things they know nothing about and open gates they cannot close. Sir, the trend is disturbing and must be stopped.
WATCH FOR PART 2 AS MONTAGUE ADDRESSES CORRUPTION IN THE FORCE AND MORE