‘We had to act now’
DCP Bailey says Friday’s major gun and ammunition seizure would have ‘slipped through the cracks’ had the police not taken swift action
Jamaica’s crime chief Fitz Bailey says the nine weapons and hundreds of bullets seized on the North-South Highway on Friday evening could have “slipped through the cracks” if he had not taken the actions he did.
Bailey, a deputy police commissioner who heads the crime and security portfolio, personally led a hastily arranged team of cops who intercepted two cars near the highway exit in Ewarton, St Catherine.
Inside one of the vehicles cops found three M-16 assault rifles, five 9mm pistols, a revolver and 440 assorted rounds of ammunition, he confirmed.
“The circumstances that presented itself, if I did not act the way I did, maybe that consignment could have slipped through the cracks,” Bailey told The Sunday Gleaner during an interview yesterday.
“I am a police officer. I never joined the force as a deputy commissioner. The life of every citizen is important and if my action can result in the saving of one person’s life, that is important to me.”
The guns and ammunition were cleared from the wharf in Kingston earlier on Friday and were being delivered to a consignee in Clark’s Town, Trelawny, multiple police sources confirmed.
No licence plates were affixed to the car in which they were found, according to one source who disclosed that it had markings similar to those placed on vehicles before they clear Customs.
Three persons who were apprehended in connection with the weapons remained in custody up to late yesterday.
Bailey declined to disclose where overseas the guns were shipped from or the intended recipients, citing the “live” investigations, but said the police are hopeful it could provide a breakthrough in other gun-shipment probes.
“The investigations may connect us to other consignments, we don’t know yet,” he said.
More than 30 illegal guns and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition have been seized at the ports in Kingston and St James since the start of the year.
Bailey, a veteran cop who has led several formations in the police force, had just returned home after a long day at work when he “got some information”.
Immediately, he mobilised a team of cops and jumped into action.
Most of the cops, he said, had completed their duties and were either heading home or were about to have dinner with their families.
But he said they responded and deserve great commendation for going above and beyond the call of duty to make their country safer.
“Sometimes you have to be able to respond swiftly. It shows that policing is not a profession, it’s a passion. They could have said ‘boss, me can’t make it, you know’.
“People don’t understand the sacrifices police officers make to ensure that this nation is safe,” Bailey said, citing the criticisms often levelled at cops.