Sunday 12 July, 2020

PNP cites police crisis amid another ‘hit squad’ suggestion

Fitz Jackson

Fitz Jackson

Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson, is suggesting that there may be an active hit squad inside the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

At the same time Jackson is describing as “an internal crisis”, the announced disbanding of the Mobile Reserve and reformation of the police force.

Jackson, in a statement on Thursday, also called for the appointment of an independent commission to investigate Sunday morning’s events beginning at Chedwin Park in St Catherine, which left two civilians and a policeman dead. Early reports of the incident suggested that three so-called rogue cops attached to Mobile Reserve murdered a dance promoter before they were chased and engaged in a running gun battle with an off-duty policeman.

The chase reportedly ended when the white Nissan AD wagon motorcar that was being driven by the three ‘rogue’ cops, crashed into a silver Nissan AD Wagon at the intersection of Job Lane and Brunswick Avenue. The civilian driver of the silver AD wagon was shot and killed, so too the police corporal who was driving the white AD Wagon.

It is not immediately clear who shot the two men.

A policeman was arrested, while another either escaped or was let out of the police vehicle that was transporting him to the hospital.

According to Jackson, the changes announced by Chang “appear to have emanated from an ongoing internal crisis in the national security apparatus, and the loose leadership and administration of the JCF.”

This, he said, was manifested in the frightening events on Sunday,  “which exposed the existence of what appears to be an active ‘hit squad’ within the ranks of the Mobile Reserve.”

Jackson described as inadequate, the statement issued on Thursday by Chang, in which the minister announced that head of the Mobile Reserve, Senior Superintendent Terrence Bent, has been sent on leave to facilitate the ongoing investigation into the deadly incident, amid the pending disbanding of the Mobile Reserve.

Dr Horace Chang

“In light of the conflicting statements made on the Chedwin Park incident by the commissioner of police and his crime chief, and the grave implications for the country’s national security, the JCF and the Ministry of National Security, it requires nothing less than a prompt independent inquiry to restore public confidence in the institution of the constabulary,” Jackson asserted.

“This level of investigation cannot be left up to any re-assigned JCF officer because in this sensitive matter, the JCF should not be allowed to investigate itself,” the Opposition spokesman added. 

Jackson said he is concerned because other similar recent incidents in other parts of the country are yet to be accounted for by the Police High Command.

“We need to recall that there have been similar claims made previously of incidents in the Clarendon Police Division, in Montego Bay and in the Corporate Area, of horrifying events which demand a full and independent inquiry. All of these events raise grave concerns regarding the quality of the leadership of the JCF and the Ministry of the National Security,” said Jackson.

The shadow security minister said “nothing short of a panel appointed under the Commission of Enquiry Act will satisfy the parliamentary Opposition on this issue, which has grave implications for the life of every single Jamaican, regardless of class, colour, religion or political affiliation.”

According to Jackson, given the fact that the security minister made no mention of the proposed dissolution of the Mobile Reserve during his recent sectoral presentation in Parliament, it is not unreasonable to draw the inference that this latest announcement was a knee-jerk reaction that is being presented as a part of the decision-making process in the command structure of the JCF.

“Minister Chang must give the country a full account of the events, (and) appoint a commission to investigate and assure the public of continued professionalism of the JCF,” Jackson said.

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