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Still not safe!

FLA still searching for lands to relocate Mandeville office

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Staff reporter
kaseyw@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 18, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Eight months after chief executive officer (CEO) of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), Shane Dalling raised concerns about licensed firearm holders being exposed to security risks at the FLA's Mandeville Regional Office, there is yet to be a relocation.

Firearm holders have said that they are being put in danger because of the proximity of the FLA office to the Manchester Parish Court. The office is located downstairs from the parish court at James Warehouse Plaza.

However, Dalling, in responding to the Jamaica Observer last Monday, said finding a suitable replacement location was proving “very difficult”.

“The FLA is still searching for lands to relocate,” he said.

A licensed firearm holder, who spoke to the Sunday Observer on condition of anonymity, identified a risk of criminals targeting firearm holders' to steal their weapons after seeing them at the FLA's office.

To illustrate the proximity of the courthouse to the gun licensing office, the firearm holder said: “You can hear the name of the [alleged] criminals being called out while doing business in FLA.”

He was adamant that the current situation was putting people's lives at risk.

“You can't have criminals interfacing with firearm holders. It is exposing holders and their firearms, and it's simply not conducive,” he said.

“Furthermore, the office shouldn't be on a crowded plaza where you can't vet the people coming in and going out. Think about [the] firearm holder's safety. The two [courthouse and gun licensing office] can't coexist at the same location,” he added.

When the Observer visited James Warehouse Plaza last Monday there was heavy police presence, with prisoners being escorted to and from the courthouse.

Dalling told local business leaders at the monthly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in February that the location of the Mandeville office was never ideal.

He became more uncomfortable about the situation since a fire in November last year which damaged the more than 200-year-old courthouse in the centre of Mandeville. The fire forced the relocation of the court's office and court sessions to a section of James Warehouse Plaza, directly upstairs the FLA's Mandeville Regional Office.

“The plan was always to relocate the regional office because the location is not ideal. It really [was] a temporary measure for convenience for the citizens of Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth,” said Dalling.

“What is happening now with the relocation of the courthouse has compounded the problem. I discussed with the Superintendent of Police [Gary Francis], when the courthouse was just relocated, and had discussions with the minister to look at the impact that it is having,” he said.

Persistent efforts by the Observer to get a comment from Superintendent Francis, who heads the Manchester police, were unsuccessful.

Dalling had suggested that the FLA office be a “stand-alone” office.

“Where the courthouse is now, it is exposing and putting the licensed holders at risk. This is because you have people who are charged — criminals — now seeing persons going into the office with their weapons. Some people have shotguns and so they are walking into the office [with such a large weapon exposed], and persons now know that they have...firearms,” he had said.

“[Persons] are being exposed by the very nature of the FLA at that location. It is something that we are looking at more urgently now to move from that location [and] find a suitable place — what I call a stand-alone site where we don't share with other [agencies], because the privacy of the individual [licensed firearm holder] is paramount to us,” said Dalling.


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