Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
More than three years after the 2010 massive operation by the security forces to capture then Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, some residents of the west Kingston community remain upset about the destruction of equipment belonging to the internationally famous Tivoli Gardens Drum Corps.
The residents claim that police and soldiers, who stormed the community, damaged or stole equipment belonging to the drum corps.
Drum corps director Stalin Williams said neither he nor any member of the corps had access to the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre for a month after the operation started. He said when they were granted access, goods and musical instruments valuing more than $1.3 million were missing or destroyed.
"We provided a list of all the things that went missing to the Office of the Public Defender. Money from ticket sales we had in a safe for our fundraising activities for the drum corps also went missing," Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to Williams, two musical tuners valued then at $19,264; six pairs of side drum skins valued $15,000; three pairs bass drum skins valued $18,000; six pairs side drum sticks valued $7,200, and six pairs bass drums sticks valued $18,000 went missing.
Neville Sloley, a band official, said laptops and cellular phones were also not found after the members of the security forces left.
The drum corps has already repaired or replaced most of the damaged equipment and performed at a recent Labour Day parade in the United States.
But that has not diminished the anger of some residents, who believe they should be compensated by the police and soldiers for the damaged or stolen equipment.
"To date, we have not received a cent in compensation. When we perform we help the students to pay school fees and provide lunch money," said Williams.
Efforts to get a response from the Office of the Public Defender have so far been unsuccessful.
However, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have indicated that they have no reports that musical instruments belonging to the drum corps were damaged during the operation.
Head of the JDF's Civil Military Unit, Captain Basil Jarrett, said until the queries from The Sunday Gleaner, the JDF had no information on the matter."The JDF has not been informed, neither anecdotally nor formally, of any such incident or complaint from any resident of Tivoli Gardens," said Jarrett.
"In cases where complaints are made to the JDF regarding the conduct of troops on operation, they are duly investigated to determine their authenticity, in order for the appropriate corrective measures to be taken," added Jarrett.
He said the JDF would be willing to assist residents if reports are made, even now.
"If such an incident did occur, we would very much like to be made aware, in order to determine the next course of action. We are, therefore, inviting the complainant to come in and submit a formal report, so that we can begin an investigation if one is warranted," said Jarrett, who is the chief liaison official with the media.
Deputy Police Superintendent Steve Brown, who heads the Constabulary Communication Network, said the JCF was also not in receipt of any such report.
"I am surprised that well over three years since the incursion it's the first time we are hearing of the allegations. We have not had any reports, and if we had, an investigation would have been held," Brown told The Sunday Gleaner.
He noted that, like the JDF, the police will accept documented reports from residents on the matter.
"We would also encourage them to make formal reports to us as well, and also to the public defender," said Brown.