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Earlier this week, I announced the launch of ‘Operation Kingfish’ a new, intelligence-driven Task Force with the principal aim of dismantling the organized criminal gangs, their leaders and their cohorts who are terrorizing too many of our communities.
Simply put, we are going to be relentless in pursuing the main organized criminal groups involved in drugs, guns, extortion and other crimes.
The Task Force, which has already begun its operations will be reaching out to you in your communities, not only to hear what you know, but to help develop resistance to the criminals who seek to control your daily lives.
Predictably, the announcement has led to considerable debate and even some scepticism. Much of the scepticism is understandable given the continuing rampage of violent criminals.
That’s why I want to take this opportunity to explain ‘Operation Kingfish’
‘Operation Kingfish’ is not another police squad. On the contrary, it represents a different approach and deserves the support and cooperation of every law-abiding Jamaican:
In the first place, the Task Force represents a ‘joined-up’ effort, combing the JDF and JCF and our international partners, the United Kingdom and the United States. The members of the Task Force have been carefully selected and vetted, therefore the Task Force begins with a high degree of creditably, capability and trust.
Second, the capability of the Task Force will be significantly enhanced through the active involvement of our international partners who over the past few months have been providing training, guidance and mentoring. They will continue to do so through their direct presence. The value of this support cannot be over-stated.
Third, the Task Force unlike most other units is a self-contained autonomous body with its own independent intelligence analysts capable of directing operations on the basis of the available intelligence. It will be supported in its operations by elements from other arms of the security forces such as SACTF, (Special Anti-crime Task Force) Flying Squad, and the OCID (Organised Crime Investigation Division) and the JDF.
Fourth, this Task Force will have dedicated legal support from the very outset of their investigations so they will better be able to construct cases that will stand up in court.
Fifth, this Task Force incorporates a community outreach and information component to mobilise and channel your support for this effort.
In establishing the Task Force, we have incorporated the lessons that we have learnt from our successful counter-narcotics efforts. Specifically we have learnt the value of good intelligence and case preparation. Also, we have learnt that the greatest benefit to law enforcement comes from targeting the key criminal figures involved in organising criminal activity.
Let me affirm once again that in this fight against organised crime there are no untouchables. No one is immune. There are no exceptions. Political affiliation, social status or community of residence does not matter.
NOT A PANACEA
Let me emphasize that Operation Kingfish is not a panacea. It does not represent the totality of activities that either the police or the military will be engaged in as we confront the alarming upsurge in murders and other violent crimes that we have been witnessing over the past few months.
Ironically, one reason for the upsurge is the very success we have had in combating narcotics trafficking by arresting major figures.
This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in cocaine flows to Jamaica and of the income from the cocaine trade. As a consequence, we are seeing violent and often deadly struggles both within and between criminal gangs as they fight for turf in order to replace the lost income from cocaine.
A second major factor behind the upsurge relates to political crisis and social breakdown in Haiti, which has generated a major illicit trade in gun running from that country which is having an impact on Jamaica. Some of these deadly weapons are now in the hands of the criminal underworld in Jamaica.
This has added to the supply of guns from the Central American coast where high-powered guns are easily and cheaply available.
Modernizing the infrastructure of law enforcement
Even as we establish and develop Operation Kingfish we remain committed to the modernization of the country’s law enforcement infrastructure. In August we received 47 motorcars, which have already been deployed, and we expect to receive an additional 23 next month.
Some 100 motor cycles are expected to arrive in December. We have ordered 150 SUVs to be used mainly in rural areas. We expect to receive these early in the New Year in addition to six patrol boats for the Marine Police.
We are currently undertaking emergency repairs to some of the police stations badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan at a cost of about $20 million. Repairs to the rest of the stations will form part of the national reconstruction recovery programme for Hurricane Ivan.
We continue with our efforts to introduce new technology to our crime efforts. We have implemented a new traffic ticketing system to track traffic offenders. We have implemented a new close circuit television surveillance system in public spaces in the Corporate Area and will be expanding these in the course of the next year.
In addition, we are currently in negotiations for the purchase of an automated finger print identification system (AFIS), at a cost of over $200M Jamaican Dollars.
We are continuing our effort to recruit and train additional police personnel to increase the ratio of police to population. Further, as indicated by the Prime Minister in his recent broadcast to the nation, we are making strenuous efforts to secure increased assistance from overseas partners. Specific requests have been made to secure officers from overseas to serve in the JCF. And this request is being processed.
On the operational front, the Special Anti-crime Task Force currently under the leadership of SSP Donald Pusey will be expanded and a section permanently located in Montego Bay in the Summit police station. This was refurbished at a cost of some $10 million. Another section of SACTF will be deployed in central Jamaica, focusing initially in the parish of Clarendon. For its part, the JDF has over the past 12 months developed new capabilities and units with special skills. I have directed that these be brought to bear particularly on those communities in the Corporate Area and St Catherine which have experienced particularly high levels of criminality.
We are also continuing to modernize the legislative framework in support of our law enforcement activities.
Of particular importance for the work of Operation Kingfish are the Plea Bargaining legislation which should be laid in Parliament before the end of this year and a new Proceeds of Crime Act which has now been drafted.
This is a critical piece of legislation as it will take the profits out of criminal activity. When this bill becomes law we will be able to deal effectively with persons who have amassed millions of dollars in cash or property which cannot be explained by legitimate activity.
Community Support
Fellow Jamaicans,
In the final analysis even as we continue the process of modernizing the security forces generally we will need approaches such as ‘Operation Kingfish’ to focus on specific elements of the crime problem.
If, however, Operation Kingfish is to succeed it also demands a new commitment from all of us as citizens.
All good and decent citizens must demonstrate resolve and declare that ‘enough is enough’… and I mean all good and decent citizens everywhere in Jamaica, not just those in embattled inner city communities.
We are fully aware of the ‘anti-informer’ sub-culture and real fear of reprisal against persons who provide information to the Security Forces. This has a negative impact on our ability to gather useful information that can be used to break up gangs and put away their leaders.
But we also know the culture of silence is not viable because it does not increase security for those who withhold information, for individual communities or the society as a whole.
We have devised credible, safe and strictly confidential channels for you to pass on information about criminal gangs. We have a new toll free number through which information can be passed to the Task Force. The number will be administered by the Crime Stop Programme.
The number is simple and easy to remember – 811 (eight one one). You can call anonymously from any cell phone or landline. There is no charge, no name, no caller ID, no *69, no trace. It’s strictly confidential. Make the call.
Fellow Jamaicans
I have no illusions about the enormity of the task we face. But I know that we who are law-abiding are not going to win by cowering in fear, keeping silent or doing nothing.
Winning is the only option: It’s the only possible outcome because the very survival of Jamaica is at stake.