Diaspora angered by 'no foreigner' comments in commish search
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
A pronouncement by the parliamentary Opposition that it would not support the appointment of a foreigner as the country's next police commissioner has angered members of the diaspora community in the United States.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting appeared to have given support to the stance taken by the Opposition when he told the Parliament last month that the appointment of someone outside Jamaica would have to be "under extraordinary circumstances".
The anger among members of the diaspora comes amid confirmation that a Jamaican who has held several senior positions in the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the United States is among those vying for the job of police commissioner.
Irwin Clare, an advisory board member for the US northeast region, told The Gleaner he is aware of persons in the diaspora who have the requisite skills and expertise to lead the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and questioned why they would not be considered.
"We were taken aback by the statement by Derrick Smith about 'no foreigner' and even more concerned by the statement by the minister that they are not going outside of Jamaica. What does that mean when, for every other argument, we are considered Jamaicans wherever we are?" Clare said.
"We send monies home and everybody is happy, but here comes a particular functionary and … we are not asking for any special treatment," he continued.
DIASPORA NOT FOREIGNERS
Smith told The Gleaner that the Opposition stands by its position that the next commissioner should come from within the ranks of the JCF. He also said that he did not consider Jamaicans living in the diaspora to be foreigners.
"There are individuals within the Jamaica Constabulary Force who are well trained, very bright, with years of experience, who I believe should be elevated," Smith insisted.
The agency leading the search for the new commissioner, the Police Services Commission, has confirmed that several persons met last Friday's deadline to submit applications but declined to say how many were from persons living overseas.
The commission will now review the applications before selecting a shortlist of candidates who will be invited for interviews.
Deputy commissioners Linval Bailey and James Golding have confirmed they have applied for the job, while Acting Commissioner Glenmore Hinds and one of his deputies, Clifford Blake, declined to indicate whether they had submitted applications.
Insiders revealed that the FBI official seeking to become the country's 48th police commissioner was born and raised in the inner-city community of Waterhouse in St Andrew and attended Balmagie Primary School before moving to Meadowbrook High.
He went on to have a 27-year career in law enforcement, serving in several capacities in the FBI.
Clare insisted that the inclusion of persons outside Jamaica could be a win-win situation, underscoring that these candidates would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.