Phillips calls in PSOJ - Private sector to bridge gap between parties, police
March 27 2002
Dr. Peter Phillips
NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Dr. Peter Phillips plans to call in the private sector to seek an end to what he calls "the ongoing politicisation of crime" in the country.
The Minister indicated this yesterday while dismissing as baseless, claims by Opposition Leader Edward Seaga that a special police unit is being trained to disrupt the campaign plans of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the run-up to the general election expected this year.
Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) president, Oliver Clarke, last night said the business community is prepared to work with the political parties and the police to ensure that there is peace in the society.
"It is important that this election be the most peaceful in the history of the country," said Mr. Clarke, adding that "the private sector will do all that it can to help to improve communication and trust between the two main political parties and the police."
Mr. Seaga told reporters in Montego Bay, St. James, on Monday that he was informed that about 1,500 officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had been hand-picked by a former People's National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament and were being trained to "target and intimidate" JLP supporters.
The JLP leader said that the men are being trained in six-week sessions under the guise of an anti-terrorist squad.
But the National Security Minister called those claims "reckless and irresponsible." Dr. Phillips added that he was disturbed and dismayed by Mr. Seaga's comments "because they can engender division of the police force along political lines". The Minister said that this would be "in total contradiction to the efforts and spirit of the bi-partisan discussions spearheaded by the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), which had made great strides in building a much-needed national consensus in the battle against crime and violence in Jamaica".
He added that he would be writing to invite the PSOJ and the Opposition spokesman on national security "to a meeting to seek a resolution to the ongoing politicisation of crime and law enforcement efforts in Jamaica".
Dr. Phillips described the Opposition Leader's comments as "an act of reckless abandon and irresponsibility" designed "to seek to impugn the motives of the security forces without providing any evidence whatsoever for such spurious allegations".
The Police Officers Associa-tion has also denied that any member of the force was being trained to target the JLP. "Mr. Seaga's statement grossly misrepresents the purpose and nature of our police training at all levels. The managers and trainers of the JCF seek to provide professional training for its members in keeping with the mission and corporate objectives," the Association said in a statement.
The Association added that Mr. Seaga's comments only serve to undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the police force and urged the continued support of all law abiding and well-thinking Jamaicans. Dr. Phillips said too that he hoped "all well-thinking Jamaicans, and especially those who aspire to lead the country, would understand that no well-thinking Jamaican can afford to politicise the battle against crime, or to give credence to the criminals in our midst".