Police to crack down on wayward party promoters in Negril
Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
Commanding Officer of the Negril Police Station, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mercedes Currie says her department will be relentless in its prosecution of wayward party promoters and venue owners who continue to breach the Noise Abatement Act and other laws, despite numerous warnings.
The DSP was speaking recently at a meeting involving the police, members of the Negril entertainment fraternity, hoteliers and representatives from the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM). The meeting was held at the Negril Community Centre and was convened by the JFM after promoters complained of experiencing numerous shutdowns of parties, carried out by the police, over the recent holiday period.
"A prominent feature in Negril is we have not had much prosecutions or arrests coming out of these events. The fact now that I am meeting with you in this manner means that as of now, it will be strict enforcement of the law ... we are going to prosecute, we are going to arrest.
"If we come to your event and we are out of paper, you realise that we are running with some serious limitations where we don't have paper, we don't have ink, we don't have a lot of things, and if on that particular occasion, we don't have the summons to serve, we will have no option but to arrest," Currie cautioned.
In outlining specific offences committed in the staging of events, Currie highlighted breaches of the Road Traffic Act, which she warned would no longer be tolerated. She therefore advised promoters to arrange for adequate parking to facilitate partygoers. She also made mention of the Solid Waste Management Act and the Spirit Licence Act, reminding promoters that those also needed to be adhered to. With regards to the Noise Abatement Act, Currie said both promoters and owners of venues would be prosecuted.
"Now, when we prosecute under the Noise Abatement Act, remember it is not just the sound operator who is going to be prosecuted. The venue operator who allows his or her premises to be used, and to result in an annoyance to the community, those persons will also be prosecuted ... and of course, there will be seizure of the equipment that is used to cause that annoyance," she said.
But, the DSP's words only served to draw on the ire of some promoters who felt that the current laws targeted them unfairly, and as such, was in need of change.
Lowell Lawson, public relations officer of the JFM, who spoke on behalf of the promoters, said promoters were incurring heavy losses from the shutdown of their parties by the police, especially those held on weeknights between Sundays to Thursdays, for which the law calls for an ending at midnight. He said entertainment was the only means of earning a viable income for most of these promoters, and as such, their livelihood should not be taken away from them.
LOSS OF MONEY
"If it is that you are going to take away - the only viable option we have to make money - what is your other option to us?" he questioned.
"We are losing thousands and thousands of dollars. Where will we get money to live by if we are to sit down? So you need to show us another option for taking away our entertainment earnings from us."
The stakeholders are calling for a meeting with Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill and his junior minister, Damion Crawford, to discuss their issues in order to reach an amicable resolution for all concerned.
"As a former campaign manager for Damion Crawford when he was president of the People's National Party Youth Organisation, the things that we spoke about coming up to the elections, the promises we made, even to some of these same entertainers whom I had to convince to come out and vote, on the premise that there will be a change, I have to say that I am disappointed as this is not what they bargained for," said businessman and party promoter, Orlando Knibb.
"I think they have carried the people wide, and for a party that I have showed my loyalty to, I think we are not going on good ... I notice it is the poor people that this is happening to, not the upper class, as their parties are not being turned off on an islandwide basis," Knibb further complained.