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'Chawfine' maintains order at Charles Gordon Market

Published:Saturday | December 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Winston 'Chawfine' Campbell (left) removing illegal vendors from the Charles Gordon Market.

Western Bureau:While the authorities can take credit for the aesthetics which have transformed Montego Bay's Charles Gordon Market, when it comes to maintaining law and order, the man driving that process is Winston 'Chawfine' Campbell.

Campbell, who is renowned in Montego Bay as a no-nonsense individual, was employed by the parish council as an enforcement officer just over two years ago, and over time, vendors (those operating at the market and the streets across Montego Bay) have come to realise that he is not prepared to give up even an inch to disorder.

"In the beginning, I use to get a lot of resistance from the vendors - verbal and physical assaults - attacks by persons with knives and machetes and even a few death threats," said Campbell. "However, they have seen that I am not afraid and I am not going to bow to any slackness, so the level of compliance is now much better.

In explaining his responsibilities, the tough-talking Campbell said that as enforcement officer for the parish council, his duty entails ensuring that vendors at the market operate within the designated area, and that the market stays free of the undesirable persons who would prey on shoppers in former times.

not an easy job

"It is not an easy job. Right now, I have a case in court where a vendors is accusing me of assault. In addition, vendors are always saying we are taking their goods ourselves," said Campbell, a former Rusea's High School student. "However, I want to make it clear that I practice what I preach, so I won't get involved in any unethical behaviour ... . We keep a record of all the things we take from vendors."

While he thinks he has the market under control, the streets of the western capital are proving much more challenging as, according to Campbell, the vendors from Kingston have taken lawlessness to another level.

"These Kingston vendors don't believe in law and order and will want to challenge me every inch of the way, but I think they are slowly getting the message that they are not going to walk into the Montego Bay business district and do as they like," said Campbell. "Threat or no threat, they will have to play by the rules."

Campbell, who prefers to act than argue, is usually quite visible while conducting law enforcement - his trademark wide-brim leather hat, dark glasses and a string of side arms, to include handcuffs, is a common sight where disorder threatens.

While his job is no fun, Campbell says he has encountered a few hilarious situations from time to time, which according to him allows the occasional smile.

"A lady told me that she went to the obeah man to 'soak' me the other day, but she said the obeah man seh him cant touch me because me sleep with the Mount Rosser monkey," said Campbell. "The truth is, I am not out there to make people's lives hard. Once they obey the rules, we won't have any problems."