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LETTER OF THE DAY - Gun find raises serious questions

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM


The recent find by the police of 19 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and the revelation that police officers might be involved in the illegal activities of gun trafficking are of great concern and raise serious questions of trust and whether the accountability mechanism in place at the armoury and police stations across Jamaica are sufficiently adequate, despite acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington's insistence and reassurance of its effectiveness.

For as it now stands, the police force has not been in good standing because of the frequent revelations of corrupt activities and questionable shootings which have thwarted its attempts to resolve this widening gap of trust and distrust between the citizens of this country and a force that is sworn to protect and serve its people. Indeed, this new development will most likely exacerbate the status quo, and it certainly has serious implications.

Inevitable question

The inevitable question, therefore, at the back of the minds of most Jamaicans is: how long have these activities been in operation and how many of the guns, distributed before the find, contributed to countless murders and robberies?

The citizens of this country have all right to be afraid and concerned and the authorities should not downplay these concerns. Reassuring them that "the security procedures at the armoury and stores are adequate for the guidance of honest and responsible people" certainly is not enough. What is required of the acting commissioner is demonstration of its effectiveness. the onus is on him to prove this and to reassure the members of the public in order to gain their trust.

Workable solutions needed

Since Mr Ellington has been tipped for the job of commissioner of police, he has been saying the right things, but what is required is action and workable solutions. This might be achieved by implementing effective systems of accountability not only at the armoury, but at stations where breaches have been uncovered and where systems of distribution and recording of weapons in the possession of police officers are archaic and subject to being easily manipulated by members of the force. We have seen the manifestation of this in recent times where guns have gone missing from stations. This, in my view, is a step in the right direction.

Far too often, the people of this country are fed with reassurances, which are insensitive to their concern. People have ceased to become gullible recipients of rhetorical speeches that have a limited feel-good effect without positive action. They demand more, much more from the authorities.

I am, etc.,


Daytona, Greater Portmore

St Catherine