Training launched with US assistance to ramp up anti-gang fight
The security forces’ efforts to track down and convict gang members are to be bolstered by Advanced Counter Gang Training being put on by the Government in collaboration with the United States.
The training is aimed at building capacity for an inter-agency approach to investigations prosecutions and the overall dismantling of transnational organised criminals operating in Jamaica. It will feature in-person sessions, the first starting on March 30 at The University of the West Indies, while the second will be held in April.
Participants will include personnel from the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Major Organised Crime Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
The training will consist of online instructional videos on a range of topics, including gang identification, financial investigation, intelligence gathering in correctional facilities, victim and witness care, digital crime, and trial preparation.
The programme is the latest in continued support from the United States government of local crime-fighting goals.
Thursday’s launch at The University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters was attended by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, Police Commissioner Antony Anderson, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, US Ambassador Nick Perry, and other officials.
In lauding the initiative, Chuck said that the passage of the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction, and Regulation) Act last year is a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to saving lives by addressing the issue of illegal guns.
“Guns are the main and preferred tool used by gangsters, and this far-reaching legislative reform reflects worldwide best practices and updates fines and custodial sentences for those violent offences perpetuated on law-abiding citizens,” he noted.
“Through the use of guns, gangsters rain terror and violence on each other and also innocent citizens ... . The Government and our country need all the help and support to rid our streets and communities of illegal guns,” said Chuck, adding that tackling crime involves a delicate balance of intervention, suppression, and prevention strategies.
Meanwhile, Anderson said that the training is another step in ensuring that law-enforcement networks and skill sets are stronger than those of criminals.
“We have seen where organised crime has morphed and changed as we create responses to what they do. It doesn’t just go away,” he said. “But over the years, we have managed to successfully put significant dents in their operations. Still, they come back, so we always have to be upgrading our skills, sharing information, and understanding what each other is doing.”
Anderson said that several anti-gang initiatives are currently under way and that the latest training will only add to that cadre of resources, upgrading individuals’ skillsets.
“Based on the number of gang leaders who are actually in jail at the moment, obviously, something is working, and we have to make sure they stay there,” he said. “This training will boost our training and enable us to get prosecutions. But these matters are complex, they take time, and they have a lot of moving parts.”