Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Police in state of readiness for election, says Forbes
Observer Reporter
Tuesday, October 15, 2002



Police Commissioner Francis Forbes speaks to reporters yesterday about security arrangements for election day, tomorrow. (Photo: Michael Gordon)

POLICE Chief Francis Forbes yesterday assured the nation that the security forces were in a state of readiness and would provide a safe environment for tomorrow's general elections when Jamaicans vote for parliamentary representatives in 60 constituencies.

"The security plans which we have put in place are unprecedented," he told reporters at a press conference held at the constabulary's Old Hope Road headquarters in Kingston.

Forbes said that the security plans would include the provision of five helicopters for rapid response, which he said would be used to airlift security forces where necessary. Additionally, Jamaica Defence Force helicopters were also to be brought "fully on board" to assist in security arrangements, Forbes said.

It was not clear under what arrangements the helicopters were acquired and over what period they will be made available, but the police chief said it was likely that the island would be divided into zones and a helicopter designated for each zone.

"So for example, after the close of the polling stations, we will be getting ready to move ballot boxes. In the event a convoy system becomes necessary the helicopter could shadow the convoy," Forbes explained. He said that the helicopters would also be useful in spotting situations that could be helpful to the police.

He noted, too, that on election day there will be adequate police coverage at all polling stations throughout th day and that a full escort system would be provided for electoral officials and vehicles transporting ballot boxes from polling stations to counting centres.

"There will be maximum security at counting stations prior to the arrival of ballot boxes and for as long as they remain at those locations," he said.

At the same time, Forbes said police personnel would be strategically deployed, with special emphasis on potential flashpoints.

Detectives and the 1,600 parish special constables, who will be authorised to dress in plainclothes, will be required to wear special identification vests with letters and numbers that are clearly visible. The letters and numbers on the vests will be supported by other information contained on a computer data base at the police headquarters, according to Forbes.

The police chief, however, warned members of the force engaging in behaviour that could be interpreted as political, that they would be investigated by members of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) who were being deployed islandwide to deter and to investigate unprofessional conduct by policemen.