Spanish Town hails curfew

SPANISH TOWN, Jamaica – Head of Operation Kingfish, Assistant Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, says the Spanish Town community supports the curfew now under way in sections of the Old Capital.

“By and large, it has been appreciated and, in fact, many residents have questioned why we did not try this tactic sooner,” he told The Gleaner.

ACP Hinds added: “Spanish Town has been quiet for almost a week and that has been a significant achievement of policing objectives, compared to the very high crime rate before. This was the purpose of the curfew and we believe we have significantly disrupted organised crime with our presence.”

Despite the joint police/military operation, gunmen struck yesterday evening, killing two men and injuring another. The incident took place in the Super Plus Food Stores car park on Burke Road.

However, Jamaica Labour Party leader, Bruce Golding, has proposed a meeting with Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas and Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, to discuss the crime-fighting strategies being employed by the security forces.

Speaking specifically to last week’s joint police/military operation in the Tawes Pen and Ellerslie Pen areas of Spanish Town, Mr. Golding is maintaining that the rounding up of over 80 persons in the communities was illegal. The curfew imposed on the communities remained in force for 96 hours.

Golding argued that “under Section 50 (C) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Act, a cordon and search should not last for more than 12 hours and a curfew beyond 48 hours.”

He also pointed out that the detainees who were held for more than 12 hours should have been taken before a Justice of the Peace and each person be told why they were picked up by the police.

Mr. Golding was addressing party supporters in downtown Kingston Sunday night at a public rally ahead of tomorrow’s by-election for the West Kingston seat.

According to ACP Hinds, however, in the case of Spanish Town, a new curfew order was drafted and signed after the 48 hours had expired.

In defending the actions of the security forces, the Kingfish chief said: “This has been a response to the scale of the situation. It was driven by intelligence that persons responsible for murders, shootings and extortion were in the area. The commissioner of police ordered this in response to this intelligence which demanded an effective response.”

ACP Hinds refused to be drawn on what intelligence had been gleaned, or if police had been able to establish informants in the area. “I cannot reveal the police strategy for obvious reasons,” nor could he, “reveal which area will be the next to be targeted.”

Asked if the strategy was heavy-handed, he replied that curfews were a tool at the disposal of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

“It is a legitimate position, passed by Parliament, and we will continue to use whatever strategies and tactics that can be applied,” he said.

Pressed on how the JCF would continue to police Spanish Town after security forces pulled out their current numbers, ACP Hinds replied, “We are continuing to monitor the area and we will apply what methods are needed in response to further intelligence.”