JIS News

I speak to you tonight, fully conscious of the fact that the issue of crime and violence is at the heart of your concern as you contemplate the future of our country.
Every law abiding Jamaican would have been heartened by the success of our police in tracking down Jamaica’s most wanted criminal. Unfortunately, he was killed in the process of apprehension.
The disorder which ensued in Spanish Town and its environs as his accomplices coordinated violent street action indicates the magnitude of the task involved in defeating the criminals, restoring public order and establishing an environment for social peace and economic development.
I am not sure that all of us appreciate the painstaking effort involved in tracking down and apprehending criminals who have financial resources to buy the loyalty of people, corrupt public officials, acquire modern communication technologies, and arsenals capable of competing with the fire power of the security forces. In addition, these criminals use the most up to date techniques of crime. They disguise their appearance and utilize a number of safe houses located all over Jamaica including some of our most serene rural communities.
The recent disorder and violence in Spanish Town and its environs is the clearest indication of the extent of control that these so-called dons exert through money, intimidation and bribery in the communities in which they have criminal enterprises. The criminal elite in today’s Jamaica is an extremely resourceful and formidable enemy.
All of us are painfully aware of the burden which crime and violence places on us as individuals, and the blight it represents on Jamaica’s potential as a country. The illegal drug trade has corrupted critical national institutions including our politics, and many of our sons and daughters are now languishing in the prisons of North America and Europe after being used as drug mules.
It is as a result of this illicit trade that the most terrible weapons have been placed in the hands of local gangs which use our young men as pawns in their deadly battles.
Just as pernicious is the extortion racket, which poses the single biggest obstacle to the expansion of business and the creation of jobs in our urban centres. It is not only big businesses which suffer from extortion. The evidence indicates that those preyed upon include market vendors, taxi operators and other small business persons desperately trying to make a living.
Our health services also come under pressure as a result of violence. The most recent report shows that the cost of direct hospital services provided for victims of violence, together with the costs of rehabilitation and loss of income amount to some $12 Billion dollars annually.
Jamaica’s potential for development can never be realized as long as these dons remain free to carry on their criminal enterprises and induce the fear which stifles our future. It is for this reason that a year ago we launched Operation Kingfish to spearhead the fight against organized crime.
We were clear that we had to go to the very heart of the problem, to the ‘big fish’ of the drug trade and the so-called ‘untouchable dons’, the men of violence who supposedly “run things” in their different communities.
What have we achieved so far?
We have dealt a major blow to the cocaine trade. Major arrests have been made and key figures are facing extradition to the United States to answer charges of drug trafficking.
We have dismantled or severely disrupted major criminal networks including the ‘Gideon Warriors’, the ‘One Order’ and ‘Klansman’ gangs in Spanish Town as well as other gangs operating in the Corporate Area and elsewhere. We have also confronted and apprehended some of the so-called ‘untouchables’, who in the past relied on their political affiliation for immunity.
Hundreds of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been seized.
‘Operation Kingfish’ has arrested some 235 persons in relation to murders, firearms, drugs and ammunition and has apprehended 32 wanted persons.
Over 12 metric tonnes of cocaine, unspecified quantities of hash oil and over 4,000 pounds of compressed ganja have been seized.
Perhaps, the most important achievement however, has been the improved relationship between the police and the community which has resulted in some 1000 telephone calls to Operation Kingfish over the past year, of which over 800 were actionable. This has provided a sound basis for our improved intelligence which has made a critical difference in the operations of the police.
However, the removal of the some of the kingfish of crime has created new opportunities for other members of the criminal networks and the fight among themselves for turf and power has led to more killings. Let me pause for a minute to analyse the murders that have been committed.
Of the over 1,400 homicides committed last year
300 were as a result of gang wars over drugs and turf;
407 were criminals or victims taking the law into their own hands in an effort to get even;
89 were criminals killed by the police;
314 were killed as a result of domestic violence which is perhaps the most saddening since in many cases these are all people who know each other and have resorted to the most extreme violence over petty issues.
What is significant in the pattern this year, is the approximately 50% increase in gang and drug related murders.
How then will we respond to these immediate challenges posed by the intensification of turf wars and gang feuds that have been stimulated by the pressure that we have brought to bear on the criminal elite?
First, we will be intensifying our intelligence driven focus on what we call the ‘hot spots’ of crime. To this end, we will be increasing the intelligence gathering, investigative and operational resources of the security forces to enhance their effectiveness in these communities.
These operations will necessitate an increase in the number of officers available for active duty. Later this month, another 130 police officers will graduate. Simultaneously, 150 officers who are presently engaged in various administrative functions will be transferred from desk jobs to more direct operational duties. Over the medium term civilians will be used to take over many of the administrative functions presently carried out by police officers, thus releasing 350 more police officers for active duty.
I shall shortly be presenting to Cabinet proposals to increase the Establishment of the police force to 10, 000 over the next 18 months. This will add another 1500 police officers to our streets.
Based on the successes of Kingfish, all homicides and shootings will be investigated by a Task Force comprised of the most experienced police personnel from the existing Homicide Unit and Divisional CIB offices who will merge with the investigative arm of Operation Kingfish;
The command and operational capacity of the police force will be further strengthened. We have identified and recruited an additional 3 senior officers from overseas. They will arrive shortly. In addition, officers who have recently left the force and who have a proven track record of intelligence gathering and crime investigation will be invited back on contracts.
We recently signed contracts to acquire the most up-to-date technologies for crime fighting including;
An Automated Fingerprint Identification System (APFIS) and an Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS). These acquisitions will considerably enhance our investigative capacity and speed up prosecution and convictions.
Given the increasing role of intelligence in determining police activities, and the growing support of the public, all intelligence units within the JCF will be rationalized under the leadership of a Deputy Commissioner, who will be given the new intelligence portfolio.
We will continue to strengthen the legislative framework to facilitate the work of the Security Forces. Over the past week, some important new pieces of legislation have been passed in Parliament, including;
An Act to allow for plea bargaining which will facilitate accused persons in providing information on the master minds of crime in exchange for reduced sentences by the court.
Also, the Larceny Act was amended to provide easier prosecution and stiffer penalties for extortion. The organized Crime Investigation Division bolstered by this law, will be making an all out assault on extortion rackets.
An Act to establish a Civilian Oversight authority for the JCF in order to boost public confidence and ensure greater accountability was also recently passed.
Currently before Parliament is the Proceeds of Crime Bill, which we intend to pass and which will enable us to more easily separate criminals from their ill-gotten wealth.
Equally, we are also taking steps to deal with the corruption in the police force, for in the fight against crime the moral stature of the police is as important as their coercive power. The launch of the JCF Anti Corruption Strategy on October 26, 2005, was a major step in our fight to eliminate corruption from the force.
However more effective policing on its own will not automatically reduce crime to the levels desired. Simultaneously there must be a comprehensive programme to offer the poor and the unemployed an alternative to a life of crime. In the Ministry of National Security we will be speeding up our efforts in the Community Security Initiative. Success in this regard, however, will require the full involvement of our public and private sector partners in the social development process.
Let me make it clear that it is not an option for Jamaica to return to a system of enforcement of public order which tolerates the freedom of ‘dons’ and so-called untouchables to operate in alliance with politicians, business persons or anyone else.
There can be no let up in our determination to pursue and dismantle the organized crime networks. Political affiliation, real or imagined, cannot and will not offer any protection. Political leaders must live up to their commitment given in the code of political conduct which includes the obligation of parliamentarians not to impede the police in the conduct of their activities.
Fellow Jamaicans, the war we are waging against the criminals will be sustained relentlessly. However, victory will only be assured if all of us are prepared to go to the very heart of the problem and eliminate the kingpins and their support systems of finance and corruption. On this, there can be no compromise. No one is untouchable.
There is no quick fix. The war will have many battles, but it can be won, and it will be won if all of us play our part in standing up against the criminals.
May God bless you all, and bless Jamaica, land we love.

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