[OPINIONS]:::That Massive Firearm And Ammunition Seizure

No. 60 Monday, March 1, 2010
[POSTED BY::: Robert Dalley] 
On Thursday, February 4, 2010 members of a police patrol team in Kingston seized some 19 firearms and approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition allegedly at a house in East Kingston and simultaneously arrested a Sergeant of Police and ten other persons pertaining to the firearms and ammunition seizure.

   According to Acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington those guns and ammunition apparently came from the police's armoury. The Constabulary Communications Network (C.C.N.) reported that a police team which is assigned to the East Kingston police division was on patrol specifically on Mountain View Avenue that is located in eastern St. Andrew when they came upon per­sons behaving strangely. They were stopped and searched by the police, their vehicles were searched along with a certain premises along Munster Road in the area and thereafter, the police found some 18 firearms including high powered weapons such as sub-machine guns, M16 rifles, shot guns, pistols and revolvers and almost 4,000 rounds of ammunitions. And additionally, another 600 rounds of ammunition were reportedly found at a certain business place on Mountain View Avenue. That firearms and ammunition seizure was confiscated and moved away for detention under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner Justine Felice and other members of the high profile anti-corruption branch.
   Acting Commissioner Ellington has since temporarily closed the police's official armoury and has ordered that deputy commissioner of police, Mr. Charles Scarlett who is in charge of the Inspectorate Division of the force and his division along with the National Security Ministry's audit team, conduct a comprehensive audit of the police's armoury and present the findings to him in the shortest possible time. And all staff members of the armoury will be interviewed and polygraphed by detectives from the anti-corruption branch says Mr. Ellington.
   This major firearm and ammunition uncovering and seizure have immensely damaged the reputation and integrity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (J.C.F.) in significant ways and again re­enforces the point that the force is manifestly corrupt all the way up to the Officer Corps level.
   I vividly recall in 2005 then, commissioner of police, Lucius Thomas emphatically stating at an annual police federation meeting that police intelligence had information that some police officers were associated with criminal gunmen and were selling guns and ammunition to gunmen in the illegal underworld and that the corruption within the force was at an alarmingly high level. And that possibly when criminal gunmen murder police officers in the country some of those bullets may have been sold to the gunmen by corrupt police officers and "it really pains my heart" says Thomas who was commissioner at that time. Please remember here that Thomas was a former head of Special Branch for close to thirty years before being appointed police chief so he has a great deal of knowledge, information and intelligence from that intelligence branch of the force. He is also a former long-standing career intelligence detective of high repute and experience and therefore when he comments on such important issues he certainly knows what he is speaking about from an informed background so to speak. Another senior police officer has also publicly stated some years ago that corruption is also widespread at the Officer Corps level of the J.C.F. with some high ranking officers involved in the deadly local trade and in criminal activities with nefarious gunmen. And even further, former People's National Party's minister of national security and Queen's Counsel, Keith Knight, under the P.J. Patterson-led regime publicly
commented after his tenure as minister that based on the wide­spread corruption that is within the J.C.F. it would be entirely appropriate for some of the senior members of the force to be retired in the public's interest. I fully concur with K.D. on that important point and the Police Service
Commission on the advice of the police commissioner and minister of national security should seriously consider retiring those senior officers who are suspected to be involved in criminal activities based on strong and credible police intelligence reports.
   It has been said that some of those corrupt senior police officers have large bank accounts in the country and also in other family bank accounts. This issue needs to be investigated by the police's anti-corruption branch and the Corruption Prevention Commission as a matter of urgent priority in-order that some of those criminal police officers can be apprehended, charged and prosecuted and brought before the courts while others can be thrown out of the force quite warrantable. Just meticulously observe some of those police officers of senior rank and tenure of the police force of the lavish, expensive and consistently flashy life styles that they live on a weekly basis yet, they are not questioned nor investigated to find out how do they maintain such an expensive life-style and drive such high-end motor vehicles and S.U.V.s.

   Those four police officers who apprehended those persons including the police sergeant in that massive firearms and ammunition seizure in Kingston deserves wide­spread felicitations for a job well done and for being alert, responsible and extremely professional police officers in the execution of their police duties.
   The acting police commissioner has promoted two of those con­stables to the rank of corporal, a corporal to the rank of sergeant and the other police person who is a district constable has received the appropriate police recognition from Mr. Ellington all of which are well deserved simply put. Clearly, they did their jobs with the utmost probity, professionalism and honesty and have done the force and country extremely proud.
   Clearly, the relevant and requisite checks and balances at the police's armoury and stores fell down quite significantly hence such vast numbers of weapons and ammunition were able to be removed from the location over a period of time which is frightening. After those investigations have been concluded and made public, it is fundamentally imperative that new firm measures and security management controls be put in place at that central police storage location to prevent any such criminal act from ever taking place again. All those persons who are involved with the removal of those firearms and ammunition should face the full brunt of the law and receive the appropriate sentencing upon conviction in the court of law.
   Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, has officially ordered an island-wide audit of all firearms that are within the police force, that are legally is­sued to all firearms holders and registered gun dealers who are located throughout the country and this will be carried out by the ministry's audit team. This is a most necessary move and the audit should be carried out in the shortest possible time, thereafter being made public and of the necessary measures that are in place to secure firearms in those respective areas. I am of the opinion that the issuing of all private firearms licenses should be reverted back to the J.C.F. because the present Firearms Licensing Authority is not a competent authority to be issuing private gun licenses to Jamaican applicants. They (Firearms Licensing Authority) do not have the required skills, knowledge and police experience to be competently issuing firearms licenses and according to one senior police officer the Authority should be disbanded forthwith and all firearms licenses should once again be issued by the police force approved by the police commissioner on the recommendation of the respective police parish superintendents across the island. Also, before any applicant is issued with a private firearms license he or she should be required to under go training for a period of three months at a registered firearms shooting range by a certified trainer who has been certified by the police force and national security ministry.
   Some persons who are holders of private gun licenses are not properly and adequately trained in the usage of their firearms and sometimes uses them quite inappropriately causing damage and hurt to innocent citizens when they discharge their firearms, over to you, Minister Nelson. And on the issue of the police's Bureau of Special Investigations that is headed by acting Assistant Commissioner Granville Gause. There is a huge
and long-standing back-log of cases that has been lingering at the B.S.I. for months upon months as was recently reported in the media which should be of concern for all Jamaicans and of Minister Nelson and Mr. Ellington. This is frankly speaking, grossly unacceptable, disgraceful and shameful and must be speedily and constructively addressed by the Minister expeditiously.
   Minister Nelson must ensure that the necessary financial resources are allocated to the B.S.I. to enable the agency to be in a position to carry out its varied investigative police functions effectively, dispassionately and professional within a techno­logically modern and advanced international police framework. The necessary amount of police detectives must be assigned to the B.S.I. so that the turn around time of cases can be at a high and reasonable time period level. And those police investigators must be properly trained so as to prevent them from presenting sloppy police cases to the courts. In recent times some resident magistrates have been publicly scolding police officers from B.S.I. for the poor, shoddy and irresponsible manner in which police shooting cases have been prosecuted and brought before the courts for trial. Clearly, the B.S.I. is not being operated and managed in a professional manner while on the other hand the agency is under funded which is largely hampering the efficient operation of the B.S.I.
   The Western Mirror's editorial of February 8, 2010 was so correct having to do with the reality of corruption that exists within the J.C.F. when it stated and I quote, "Policemen are fingered in crimes ranging from: murder, armed robbery, scams, rape, and assault, among others. There needs to be a cleansing. The force needs a shaking, a stirring and a total reshaping. The head needs to be cleaned first and the culprits identified and flushed out".
   Recent reports have surfaced that some of the some gun murders which have taken place have been linked to some of the guns that were found in that said firearms seizure.

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