KINGSTON, Jamaica – Illegal party promoters have allegedly been shelling out big bucks to police officers to allow the underground events to continue in contravention of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA).Observer Online spoke chose to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
It is understood that some cops, instead of shutting down the parties when they patrol the venues, are given up to $60,000, and sometimes food and liquor to bypass the events.
Under the DRMA, parties, dances and other entertainment events are banned, as part of the government's measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. This has led to some entertainment organisers using sophisticated and creative means to host events illegally.
Some have 'lookout' men watch for when the cops are coming and turn off the sound system if they do; some have literally gone to the underground of buildings while others use bluetooth technology at their venues so no noise is heard.
The promoters with whom
One said he had to fork out at least $20,000 each to four cops who turned up at his party in St Catherine. He said the cops ensured that other police personnel did not come to the area.
Another said two cops visited his venue when the bulk of patrons had not arrived
“Me never get no big money yet, so mi give them four gran' a piece and two food and some liquor,” he said.
One shared his not too pleasant experience. He is convinced a policeman took his money, but then, after leaving, called other cops to shut down his party. He said he knows policemen who routinely keep parties which are never shut down.
But McArthur Sutherland, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau, which investigates police misconduct, told Observer Online that the agency has never heard of such allegations, as no formal report has been made.
ACP Sutherland said his department is willing to act if they get credible intelligence.
“I encourage the affected parties to come forward. I would also encourage them that before they make any arrangement or agreement, to let us know beforehand, because we would know how to handle the information and the situation. I am not saying that if they come after we will not investigate,” he said.
Two years ago a tip-line was established by the Inspectorate for members of the public. The tip-line was to report police misconduct and accept intelligence that would warrant an investigation. Up to Friday, the tip-line was still working.
ACP Sutherland said there are several things a promoter can do when solicited.
“They can make a call, they can send a message, they can take images which can be used to support their reports, such as license plate, vehicle numbers or other identifying factors,” he suggested.
The ACP said with the ongoing pandemic, one critical point must be made.
“The most important point I would like to make is that people planning and those attending these parties are in breach of the law and should desist,” he said. “They should not be considering these unapproved events, but should be helping to protect themselves, their families, communities and country.”
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, speaking at a meeting in St Elizabeth, said more than said 600 illegal parties were held island-wide last July, after Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced protocols for the reopening of the entertainment sector.
Last December, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said less than two days after asking people to report unauthorised parties and events, the cops received more than 130 tips.