Cops reach out to clergy

Com­mis­sioner urges Church to con­tinue crime-fight­ing ef­forts de­spite Al Miller im­broglio

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

PO­LICE COM­MIS­SIONER Carl Wil­liams is mov­ing to en­sure that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the clergy and the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force is not per­ma­nently dam­aged by the fall­out from the con­vic­tion of the Reverend Mer­rick ‘Al’ Miller.

Last Thurs­day, Miller was fined $1 mil­lion or 12 months in prison af­ter be­ing found guilty of attempting to per­vert the course of jus­tice.

Fol­low­ing the sen­tenc­ing, some lead­ing mem­bers of the clergy, in­clud­ing Bishop Herro Blair, warned that this could cause them to re­think their role in help­ing the po­lice to bring fugi­tives to jus­tice, or other mea­sures to deal with crime.

In an al­most im­me­di­ate re­sponse, Wil­liams said he has set in mo­tion a se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties to im­prove un­der­stand­ing be­tween the po­lice and the clergy in Ja­maica.

‘NO AMBIGUITIES’

Ac­cord­ing to the Po­lice High Com­mand, “Out of a deep con­cern that pas­tors could be­come less will­ing to work with the po­lice in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the sur­ren­der of wanted per­sons, or to be in­ter­me­di­aries in the han­dover of il­le­gal firearms, Wil­liams is act­ing to en­sure that there are no ambiguities in re­la­tion to how the clergy and po­lice should op­er­ate in th­ese sit­u­a­tions.”

The high com­mand said Wil­liams has or­dered the speedy com­ple­tion of pro­to­cols that will serve to guide both po­lice and mem­bers of the clergy in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the sur­ren­der of wanted per­sons or per­sons of in­ter­est, and the han­dling of il­le­gal firearms to be handed over to the po­lice.

Wil­liams has re­port­edly con­tacted Blair to dis­cuss the mat­ter and to in­vite him to a meet­ing to dis­cuss the draft pro­to­cols.

“An in­vi­ta­tion was also ex­tended to the Um­brella Group of Churches to re­view the draft pro­to­cols in or­der to con­trib­ute to its fur­ther de­vel­op­ment,” added the high com­mand.

Wil­liams has also urged mem­bers of the clergy to ad­here strictly to the guide­lines for the safe han­dover of per­sons and/or il­le­gal firearms.

CHURCH’S IN­FLU­ENCE

“Dr Wil­liams has also had dis­cus­sions with the pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, the Reverend Dr Gar­nett Roper, and is en­cour­aged by (his) in­vi­ta­tion to work jointly with the po­lice to train cler­gy­men to en­able an im­proved un­der­stand­ing of how to pro­ceed in th­ese mat­ters.

“The com­mis­sioner notes that the Church pre­sides (over) the largest con­stituency in Ja­maica and has a great deal of in­flu­ence, and as such, church lead­ers are in­dis­pens­able to the ef­fort to unite the peo­ple in de­feat­ing the com­mon en­emy, crime.

“In this re­gard, the com­mis­sioner ac­knowl­edges the clergy’s in­valu­able sup­port and their con­tri­bu­tions to pro­grammes such as the Get the Guns ini­tia­tive, Unite for Change, and the Proac­tive Vi­o­lence In­ter­rup­tion Strat­egy,” said the high com­mand.

WIL­LIAMS

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