Nationwide News understands that several influential private sector groups today met with National Security Minister, Robert Montague, Police Commissioner, George Quallo, National Security Adviser, General Anthony Anderson and other security stakeholders.
Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, PSOJ President, Howard Mitchell, Manufacturers’ Association boss, Metry Seaga and Jamaica Chamber of Commerce President, Larry Watson, were among the private sector representatives who attended the meeting.
JDF Chief of Defence Staff, Major Rocky Meade, Deputy Police Commissioner, Clifford Blake and several other senior law enforcement officials also attended the meeting.
The high-level meeting took place at the PSOJ Hope Road headquarters.
Sources tell our news center that Minister Montague commented that the Security Minister and the government are ultimately blamed when crime spirals out of control.
Montague reportedly noted that in the early 1990s, the law in Jamaica was amended and the Minister excluded from having direct influence over the operations of the Police Force.
It’s understood that the Security Minister argued that given that it’s the Government that people usually seek answers from about crime – the law should be amended to give more power to any administration over the operational aspect of law enforcement.
One of the three private sector leaders at the meeting agreed with the Minister.
Montague, it’s understood, also raised the allegation this week by the Police Officers’ Association, POA, that he has been interfering in the operations of the Force.
Sources in the meeting say the Security Minister denied the claim.
Robert Montague is said to have given the private sector leaders examples of how he has not interfered with the work of Commissioner Quallo.
But has in fact deferred to Quallo’s advice.
Montague said in response to figures which showed a decline in rape nationally, but an increase in St. Mary, – he asked Commissioner Quallo whether it would be possible for a Police vehicle to be sent to the CISOCA unit in Westmoreland.
The Security Minister said the Police Commissioner sent vehicles to CISOCA in Westmoreland but did not send a vehicle to St. Mary.
Montague said Quallo indicated that the additional new vehicle would be more useful in Westmoreland.
The Minister said he deferred to Commissioner Quallo’s choice to send the vehicle to Westmoreland.
Sources say the Security Minister further indicated that the administration wanted to declare a third zone of special operation in 2017 but the Commissioner advised against it.
Montague said the administration again showed regard for the view of the Police Chief.
Minister Montague also told the private sector leaders that last year calls were made in the public domain for a limited state of emergency in a section of Jamaica but Commissioner Quallo said he did not agree.
The Security Minister said the administration again took the advice of the Police Commissioner.
Sources say Commissioner Quallo did not comment during today’s meeting on the examples given by Montague.
Several sources in the meeting say Minister Montague told the private sector leaders that the administration has spent almost 4-billion dollars this year on the Capital A aspect of the National Security budget
He noted that over the past five years approximately six billion dollars has been allocated to the Police Department in particular by successive administrations.
Sources say Montague indicated that given this investment – he’s justified in insisting that better results be had in the fight against time.
Calls placed this afternoon to Minister Montague and Commissioner Quallo were not answered.
In the meantime, it’s understood that Minister Montague told the meeting that, in retrospect, the communication from the Security Ministry about the Palisadoes traffic embarrassment could have been handled differently.
Several sources tell our news center that Montague insisted in the meeting that he has respect for Commissioner Quallo and his advice.
Minister Montague also reportedly praised the work of the Police in seeking to protect the country despite challenging circumstances.
PSOJ President Howard Mitchell this afternoon confirmed that the meeting took place.
However, Mr. Mitchell said the meeting did not take place in a public space and therefore he’d only offer general comments about what transpired.
Mr. Mitchell says he’s cautiously optimistic following the meeting today between the private sector groups and the national security stakeholders.
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