Cut links with dons, PM warns police
Apparently seizing on a major scandal that has rocked the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Prime Minister Andrew Holness has charged the police hierarchy to weed out rogue cops who collude with criminal actors in the underworld.
Addressing the 76th Annual Joint Central Conferences of the Jamaica Police Federation (JPF) at Moon Palace Jamaica Hotel in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on Wednesday, Holness emphasised that the country must tackle the “triple threat of dons, gangs, and guns”.
“Dons feel too comfortable. This business of the don must be addressed,” the prime minister told the audience.
“We have to separate the dons from their friends in the police force,” Holness said. Until that separation takes place, Jamaica won’t be able to address the crime situation.”
His comments rankled some rank-and-file delegates gathered in the hotel’s ballroom, who took offence at the prime minister’s characterisation, shouting, “Politicians!” in obvious reference to the perceived link between politicians and criminal dons.
“Don’t worry, I’m coming to that,” Holness responded. But he never did.
The JCF has been jolted into announcing the disbandment of its elite response unit, the Mobile Reserve, an arm of the force with a reputation of a jackbooted approach to crime fighting that often breached the law – sometimes with deadly consequences.
The reform, announced earlier this month by Police Commissioner Antony Anderson, was triggered by the fatal shooting of St Catherine businessman Sheldon ‘Junior Biggs’ Daley in Chedwin Park on April 27. Two policemen have since been charged with murder. Another cop who was believed to have been involved in the murder died in a crash after a dramatic cross-town chase.
A civilian was also killed.
“We must learn how to use force without violence. The two are not the same,” Holness said on Wednesday. “The transformation we’re moving the JCF towards is an organisation that can use force without violence, use force proportionately and without violence.”