Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has downplayed the significance of a declaration by some Jamaicans overseas that the Government will not be “touching one red cent” of a US$10-million fund they are trying to set up to help fight crime in Jamaica.
First proposed in late March, the fund will target an estimated one million Jamaicans in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for donations of US$10 each to assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in crafting a comprehensive crime plan, with emphasis on procuring urgently needed equipment and technology.
“No funds collected under the proposal will be turned over to the Government or its agencies. Our help will be project-based and in collaboration with the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force],” said former Jamaica Defence Force Lance Corporal Mark Parkinson, whose brainchild it is.
But, responding on Monday, Chang told the Jamaica Observer that under the present rules there is no way the money could have gone into the consolidated fund.
“Any contribution of that sort that comes into the country does not go into the consolidated fund. It never goes there,” declared Chang.
“They are free to raise the money, but they would have to give it to the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, and through that to the police commissioner's office. I told them that in my recent town hall meeting with them,” added Chang.
The security minister, who is also Jamaica's deputy prime minister, underscored that the group would not be able to make donations to individual police stations or formations.
“Everything must come through the appropriate channels, which is the embassy and then to the commissioner's office,” said Chang as he argued that direct contributions to police stations is also not allowed as this could open the door for influence peddling.
“If 'John Brown' gives police station 'A' $500,000 and he is a nice guy, fine, but if 'Mr Jones' comes, who is a big time wheeler dealer around the road and says he is giving $500,000 and we refuse it, it will look like we are partisan. All funds must come through the commissioner's office and therefore the police stations don't owe anybody.
“The Government has put $54 billion in the police over the past four years because we are avoiding that kind of pettifogging thing with the police. We are going to equip them as we have done,” said Chang.
Jamaicans in the Disapora have also taken issue with Chang for what they say was his rejection of their offer of expertise and technology to help with fighting crime in Jamaica during that town hall meeting staged by Jamaica's Ambassador to the US Audrey Marks, but Chang told the Observer that was not the case.
“The Government's position is that proposals to assist the police force from the Diaspora must come through the appropriate channel, which is the embassy, and then it is directed to the appropriate channel which is the commissioner's office,” Chang said.
“Manpower help cannot be done ad hoc. If a man wants to come and give a motivational lecture we don't have a problem. In fact, one member of the Diaspora came down with some technical knowledge which we thought was very useful and he was directed to go to the commissioner and they are working out something.
“I don't know anybody who has made any sensible offer that we have rejected… and we welcome any help from the Diaspora, as we did in the case I spoke about earlier,” added Chang.