Fitz Bailey, the deputy commissioner of police in charge of the crime portfolio, has defended the investigative strength of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in regards to firearms and narcotics, imploring Jamaicans not to believe the process is as simple as it appears in the television drama/mystery series, Crime Scene Investigations (CSI).
Bailey was speaking Tuesday at the JCF's monthly press conference.
Bailey and police commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, faced questions from journalists on why it appeared that there are often no arrests when shipment of firearms and ammunition are seized at the ports.
Bailey responded saying that the first focus of the police in these cases is to secure the firearms while the Investigations take place.
"This is not CSI. People watch it and believe that what they see is what happens in the real world. Any law enforcement across the globe will tell you that one of the most difficult control type delivery is firearms. If we lose the firearms, we have to consider the risk involved. Do we take the risk of allowing those firearms to escape our grasps and then become a threat to the nation?"
The most recent seizure at the ports of 59 firearms -mostly handguns and a few high powered rifles- occured on Friday in Montego Bay, St James. In January, 22 firearms, specifically handguns, were seized at the Seaboard Warehouse in Montego Bay.
According to Bailey, both finds are linked.
"There has not been any arrest in relation to that matter. The investigation is ongoing. It is difficult to isolate both finds. Both finds are connected. We are following significant leads and ultimately we will come back to the public on it."
The senior cop also brushed off arguments that JCF does not have good relations with its international partners.
"Most of those seizures were based on local intelligence and from our international partners. We have an excellent relationship with our international partners in terms of sharing information in relation to firearms and narcotics. A number of our seizures we have made, we have made arrests and we have engaged our international partners and we have had conviction in the United States of America. One of the first persons that was convicted was Jermaine Rhoomes. He pled guilty in 2017 when we recovered six firearms. In 2017, 19 firearms were seized and coming out of that, we did an investigation in Westmoreland where a number of gang members were arrested as well. Shadane Robinson, one of the gang leaders who lives and resides in the United States, based on collaboration with our international partners, he was attested, changed and convicted and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment. We are awaiting his deportation because once he is sent back to Jamaica he will be charged by us.
"In 2019 we seized 21 firearms and we actually made arrests in that matter. We had the 21 firearms seized at at the Freight Handlers Limited. Four people were charged including the mastermind. I could name several others for the people who believe that we do not have the competence to investigate these cases as well as the working relationship with our international partners. We have improved our skills and intelligence. Our collaboration with our international partners is beyond question."
Commissioner Anderson chimed in that the scope of the collaboration with international partners extends beyond guns and narcotics.
He admitted that a police ports division exists, but needs to be expanded to allow greater collaboration with the Jamaica Customs Agency and other partners as well as meet current and future needs at the ports.
"Our JCF officers are coached all the time by other law enforcement agencies. Your police force can do the work. We are building out capacities to do better. We are including technologies that are the same technologies that are even sometimes more advanced than some of the developed partners. In terms of the ports, this is an area that is being looked at by government. We have a port division that operates in conjunction with the other security personnel on the ports. We have the Port Security board that does work there and we also have the Jamaica Customs Agency which is our key partner in doing the work on the ports. Our collaboration with the Jamaica Customs Agency is growing from strength to strength and it has resulted in a lot of good work recently and seizures at the ports."
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