Best man for the job
JDF officer says new MOCA chief well qualified, highly respected
COLONEL Desmond Theodore Edwards, the career soldier who now heads the new Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), is well-trained and highly qualified in military intelligence and has developed a reputation for performance, the Jamaica Observer was told yesterday.
"He's quite adept at managing intelligence matters and is well-respected," a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) officer, who opted not to be named, told the Observer.
"He doesn't like mediocrity; once he sets time limits for assignments he expects them to be met. However, he's a reasonably balanced man and is very approachable. He knows how to talk to people," the officer said.
"He's the type of person who will call a spade a spade. They couldn't have picked a better person," the officer added.
Colonel Edwards' appointment was announced yesterday by National Security Minister Peter Bunting at a news conference at Police Officers' Club in Kingston.
"The new agency will give us greater reach and increase our capacity to carry out investigations on people of interest, including the police and those in public office," Bunting said.
The agency merges the constabulary's Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) with the former MOCA, and Colonel Edwards has been seconded for a transitional period to oversee and co-ordinate the merger.
"This merger is an interim step in a longer-term plan to create a national law enforcement agency, which will be the subject of a future Cabinet submission," Bunting said.
At the JDF, Edwards is responsible for force policy on operations, training, intelligence, communications, information systems, civil/military relations, and publications.
A graduate of Clarendon College, Edwards joined the JDF in October 1984 and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant in June 1986 after completing his initial officer training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, India.
Among his long list of appointments in the JDF is a more than 15-year stint in the JDF's Intelligence Unit which he served as desk officer, unit second in command and, eventually, commanding officer.
Colonel Edwards is also a graduate of the Infantry Officers Advance Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA; Defence Intelligence and Security School at Ashford in Kent, UK; and the International Security Management Course at the Royal Military College of Science (Cranfield University), Shrivenham, UK.
Yesterday, Bunting said the new agency is a joint effort between the constabulary and the army primarily and will have the capacity to conduct independent investigations and report to the National Security Council, through the minister of national security, on matters of policy and performance.
"It will also continue to work with other government entities, particularly the Financial Investigations Division from the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, Jamaica Customs Department, the Revenue Protection Division, the Registrar General's Department, and Tax Administration Jamaica," he said.
A steering committee, chaired by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Colonel Stewart Saunders, will include senior officers of the JCF and JDF.
The committee will have oversight responsibility for the policy implementation of the agency and will monitor the agency's performance and inform the public of its findings on a timely basis, Bunting said.
"There has been considerable overlap in the two mandates of the ACB and MOCA, both in tackling serious organised crime and stamping out corruption, and the decision to merge reflects the outstanding working relationships that have been forged between the two organisations that have fostered an atmosphere of confidence, trust, and mutual respect. This has resulted in the sharing of information, intelligence, and technical expertise in a way that has avoided compromise and has led to significant success against organised crime and corruption," Bunting said.
"The two organisations have demonstrated their competence and I believe that pooling their collective talents in a single, more capable agency can only improve performance. The officers in both units have been vetted to the highest standards and are trusted and capable," he said.