Tivoli Gardens enquiry my most discouraging moment as a police officer — DCP Hinds

BY KARL ANGELL Executive Editor Operations angellk@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, January 07, 2017

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War had literally been declared on Jamaica by the criminal elements in the period just before May 24, 2010 when the security forces conducted what they said was a necessary operation in Tivoli Gardens, Kingston.


Many Jamaicans will remember that before the May 24, 2010 operation, personnel at the Denham Town Police Station were attacked by gunmen, that heavily armed criminals from across Jamaica had assembled in Tivoli; that these criminals had barricaded and fortified Tivoli Gardens; that women had marched dressed in immaculate white clothes stating emphatically that they would die for their leader Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, that the Darling Street and Hanna Town police stations had been razed and that two police officers were brutally slain on Sunday May 23 on Mountain View Avenue in St Andrew Eastern.


The aftermath of the security forces operation saw over 60 people being killed and, after sometime, Coke was eventually captured and then extradited to the United States to stand trial on a number of charges. He was found guilty and is now serving time in a US prison.


A Commission of Enquiry headed by former Barbados Attorney General Sir David Simmons, with Professor Anthony Harriott and retired Supreme Court Justice Hazel Harris as the other two commissioners, was established to assess events leading to events during the security forces’ operation, events after the operation, and to make recommendations. The commissioners heard testimony from victims, the police, the army, various specialists, and in the end made three major recommendations: one — that an apology be made to the Tivoli Gardens community; two — special payments be made to affected members of Tivoli Gardens; and three — that known garrisons be de-garrisoned over time.


In probably his last major interview before joining the ranks of retired police officers on Tuesday of this week, Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds told the Jamaica Observer that people, conveniently or otherwise, quickly forget the circumstances and events leading to the security forces’ operation in Tivoli Gardens on May 24, 2010.


"My most discouraging moment as a police officer who served for over 40 years was the outcome of the Tivoli inquiry, for the simple reason that I felt that all the evidence was not properly understood by the country and the commissioners, and I think to a large extent, we, the security forces, have not been treated fairly.


"I suppose the passage of time could very well impair people’s memories to recall events, but I remember well the events leading up to when the police and military went into Tivoli Gardens, and at the time there was no doubt that the country was literally taken over by criminals.


"I have never seen such palpable fear on the faces of Jamaicans than on Sunday, May 23, 2010 when policemen were being killed, policemen and women were being attacked at police stations. It was a most daunting period for us and the country.


"I believe up to this day that the country owes a debt of gratitude to the security forces because, in my opinion, the security forces rescued Jamaica, and I say so without any possible hint of contradiction that we acted in the best interests of the country as we were on the brink of collapse," an emotive Hinds told the Sunday Observer.

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