Po­lice, Church agree on han­dover pro­to­cols

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

GUIDE­LINES AND pro­to­cols are now in place for the han­dling and hand­ing over of wanted per­sons, il­le­gal firearms, am­mu­ni­tion, and con­tra­band to the po­lice by mem­bers of the clergy and other re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The guide­lines were for­malised with the sign­ing of a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Min­istry of National Se­cu­rity, the Ja­maica Um­brella Group of Churches and the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Min­istry in Kingston on Tues­day.

The MOU, which has been in the works since 2014, is slated to last for five years and will be re­viewed an­nu­ally.

Port­fo­lio min­is­ter, Robert Mon­tague, said the agree­ment is a demon­stra­tion of the commitment of the Church to ac­tively part­ner with the Gov­ern­ment in fight­ing crime and build­ing a safer Ja­maica.

“We have cod­i­fied what has been long prac­tised ... so in hav­ing it in black and white, it solves a lot of prob­lems, and I don’t have to think and be­lieve, I just have to fol­low the steps that are there,” he said.

He re­minded mem­bers of the clergy not to ‘lay hands’ on il­le­gal weapons or con­tra­band, as they will have to un­dergo foren­sic test­ing.

“The MOU is very clear that when a wanted per­son comes in, you don’t have to in­ter­ro­gate, you don’t have to find out why is he wanted and what is he wanted for; that’s none of your af­fair. Your af­fair is to pro­vide that safe space to en­gage him and hand him over,” he pointed out.

Mon­tague in­formed that a sim­i­lar MOU will be es­tab­lished for lay mag­is­trates and jus­tices of the peace.

“It is our in­ten­tion to part­ner with ev­ery­body in the fight against crime, be­cause fight­ing crime in Ja­maica is a national pri­or­ity,” he said.

Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Dr Carl Wil­liams said the part­ner­ship was crit­i­cal.

He said the MOU would en­sure that men of the cloth would not find them­selves be­fore the court for any rea­son in try­ing to help the po­lice and so­ci­ety.

He noted that the Church is the largest sin­gle body in Ja­maica.

“Your reach is very wide. It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary; you have in­flu­ence and you have re­spect. You have the trust of a wide cross sec­tion of Ja­maica, and as such, there can be no more im­por­tant part­ner in deal­ing with the is­sues of crime and violence in com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

It is our in­ten­tion to part­ner with ev­ery­body in the fight against crime, be­cause fight­ing crime in Ja­maica is a national pri­or­ity.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Min­is­ter of National Se­cu­rity Robert Mon­tague (cen­tre) in dis­cus­sion with Pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Coun­cil of Churches, Rev­erend Dr Gor­don Evans (left) and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, In­de­pen­dent Churches of Ja­maica, Orville Ramo­can, dur­ing the sign­ing of a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing which sets out guide­lines and pro­to­cols for the han­dling and hand­ing over of wanted per­sons, il­le­gal firearms, am­mu­ni­tion, pro­hib­ited weapons, and con­tra­band to the po­lice by mem­bers of the clergy and other re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions. The sign­ing took place at the min­istry in Kingston on Tues­day.

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