Editorial

ACP Welsh's balderdash

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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AT the launch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) in December 2018 Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson issued the following warning: “Persons doing the right thing have nothing to be concerned about, and persons who are determined to do the wrong things should be concerned, because we will consistently and professionally carry out our duties.”

On Tuesday this week, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bishop Dr Gary Welsh, who was last month assigned to head the PSTEB, made a mockery of Commissioner Anderson's warning.

ACP Welsh, apparently seeking to get some amount of positive public relations for himself and the police force, declined to prosecute a man who came forward as the driver of a car that was captured on video making 360-degree turns at the intersection of Dunrobin and Dukharan avenues in St Andrew during daytime traffic.

The silly stunt was not only dangerous to the driver and his passenger who — going by the video being circulated — both seemed to have enjoyed it, but could have resulted in injury, and possibly worse, to other motorists and pedestrians. The man claiming to be the driver of the car, Mr Dennis Dietrih, issued a puerile apology at a news event organised by the police at the intersection.

According to him, he was merely having fun with the vehicle because it “is a fast car”.

When he was asked by this newspaper if he wasn't aware that he should have exercised caution on the road, Mr Dietrih said: “Well, when you are around the steering [wheel] sometimes enuh, it kind of get you a little bit aggressive, because the car is an aggressive car — it make you do things weh yuh nuh really think, it just happen, then yuh just go with the flow. But, as I said, it won't happen again.”

The reward for that admission of guilt, given, as far as we know without coercion, was a “bly” from the police and ACP Welsh's professorial declaration that this was “a teaching moment”. Balderdash!

Yesterday, ACP Welsh was on radio defending his failure to enforce the law, saying that any attempt to charge Mr Dietrih would have required that the integrity of the video be established.

This after he told journalists at the locus that what Mr Dietrih did “amounts to careless driving, because it endangered other members of the public, and every single person that felt that fear is a different count”.

So, by shaking the hand of this confessed reckless driver and giving him a pat on the back, ACP Welsh is basically telling other motorists that the PSTEB is not committed to improving social order in public spaces and ensuring compliance with the Road Traffic Act.

The law, we must now assume, can be disregarded with impunity, and the sheer indiscipline and lunacy that are evident on the streets daily must be accepted as the norm.

Based on ACP Welsh's argument in this case, maybe, just maybe, the Government should discard its programme of installing closed-circuit television cameras on the streets.


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