Tuesday 12 November, 2019

'Used cars not suitable for police work'

The used car policy was championed by former National Security Minister Robert Montague, pictured here with former Police Commissioner George Quallo.

The used car policy was championed by former National Security Minister Robert Montague, pictured here with former Police Commissioner George Quallo.

The 66 used cars, primarily Toyota Axios, that were assigned to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as part of the now botched 200-vehicle, $427 million contract between the Government and O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rentals, were unsuitable for regular police work.

They have since been assigned to administrative duties, the Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) was told on Wednesday.

 A report from the Support and Services Branch of the JCF on the re-assessment of the pre-owned vehicles, which was tabled before the PAAC, highlighted that some of the vehicles had to be repaired before being reassigned to the fleet.

PAAC Chairman Dr Wykeham McNeill said the report revealed that the vehicles are now being used for administrative functions. 

"It (the report) underscores, quite frankly, Mr Chairman, the idiocy behind that decision that breaks the practice of so many decades ago all over the world to use new and specially outfitted vehicles for police work," said PAAC member Fitz Jackson who had objected to the Government’s used car policy.                         

Dr Wykeham McNeill read into the proceedings, the contents of a letter that was sent to the committee from the JCF. MCNeill said a translator was needed for the letter which Jackson said was longwinded and merely served to conceal the facts.

The letter which was supposedly written by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Warren Clarke, read as follows:

"Further to assessment of May 2018, I hereby record that the general serviceability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force pre-owned vehicles remains and the challenges of functionality, deployment, and maintenance are satisfactorily mitigated.

"The vehicles (primarily Axios) have been reassigned to support administrative functions or town/metropolitan tasks (for example, motor patrol in built-up areas) more suited for their specifications. Newly acquired all-terrain vehicles replaced vehicles with lower clearance and power levels at off-the-road, hilly/mountainous, and difficult terrain. Mechanical problems (for example, transmission, sensors, and variable parts) have been successfully strategies, considerably reducing the wishes previously highlighted.

"The pre-owned vehicles of the JCF are now being fully incorporated into its fleet and have achieved optimal usefulness, a credit to policy support, leadership, and followership of this Force of Good," the letter concluded.

"It is regrettable, and the minister and the Cabinet that approved this policy decision have committed an act that is unforgivable," Jackson stated.

He asserted that the letter confirmed that the pre-owned vehicles were not suitable for police work.

To date, O’Brien’s has only delivered 66 of the 200 pre-owned vehicles it was contracted to provide and National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang recently said the administration had discarded the used car policy for the JCF.

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