Cops not too sure about gun amnesty, says federation head

Cops not too sure about gun amnesty, says federation head

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 02, 2019

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Newly-elected chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation, Sergeant Patrae Rowe, says preliminary feedback from the organisation’s membership is that they are not in full support of a gun amnesty being mulled by the Government.

“The prime minister has not given us any details on it as yet. We have not discussed it yet, but our preliminary assessment of it is that… a number of our members believe that one of the valid considerations is that criminals who wish to extend their activities may very well give up old guns and use the proceeds from the amnesty to purchase new guns and ammunition,” Sergeant Rowe said.

“I think that has to be a consideration in contemplating any amnesty, and I think that if that assessment is correct it will expose our members to greater risk. Therefore, in our (upcoming) deliberation with the prime minister and high command in respect to the matter, it will be one of the things put forward,” Rowe said.

Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his address to the Police Federation’s 76th Annual Joint Central Conference, disclosed that the Government is now considering a gun amnesty.

“We were contemplating… a gun amnesty. And I would love to get what your thoughts are on whether or not we should have one. But it is something that we are thinking about. My personal view is that it could be effective if done in a particular way, but we have to make a stand against guns in our society,” Holness said.

However, he noted that there was still a trust deficit between Jamaicans and the police, even as the relationship is improving.

“The stand that we can first make is to win over the citizens to tell us where the guns are. The problem with that is that the citizens need to have the assurance that when they talk they will be protected. That has always been, and still is the challenge. In recent times we have given significant rewards leading to the recovery of firearms and naturally no one can say that the information they have given has been disclosed. I think we are doing much better in that regard and I want to take that opportunity to appeal to the public to continue to give us information and to encourage the JCF to continue to protect the citizens who provide us with information,” Holness said.

The two-day conference was held at Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios in St Ann under the theme: ‘Overcoming Challenges, Rebuilding Bridges for a Sustainable Future’.

Following Thursday night’s elections, Sergeant Rowe replaced Corporal Arlene McBean as chairman of the organisation.

However, McBean, who last year became the first female to head the police federation, still remains a member of the central executive.

Constable Tameca Thomas is the new general secretary.

Rowe expressed his appreciation to the prime minister for attending the conference and his acknowledgement that the police force needed to be transformed, not only in structure and legislative framework, but also the welfare of members.

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