New Head of the Constabulary’s Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, P-STEB, Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Dr. Kevin Blake, says members of the police force have the right to exercise discretion in the execution of their duties.

ACP Blake replaces ACP Bishop Dr. Gary Welsh, who was removed from the post by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson.

The new traffic boss’ comments follow a disclosure by the Office of the Prime Minister, OPM, yesterday that the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet reminded the Jamaica Constabulary Force, JCF about the critical importance of enforcing the country’s traffic laws in the context of the Government’s zero-tolerance policy for breaches.

A statement from the OPM said Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson and Bishop Welsh met with Cabinet on Monday.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

During an interview on Nationwide @ 5 last evening shortly after being named the new head of P-STEB, ACP Blake says it’s difficult to define what is meant by a zero-tolerance approach.

News that ACP Welsh was removed as head of PSTEB broke after the Police High Command issued a media release yesterday advising members of the public that there would be no changes to its policy regarding the processing of individuals being ticketed for breaches of the Road Traffic Act. 

On Monday, ACP Welsh announced a number of changes to the Constabulary’s policy regarding traffic offences that were to take effect on September 1.

And, just last week, the former P-STEB boss was involved in another controversial incident.

He came under fire for declining to prosecute Dennis Deitrich, who alleged that he was the driver of a Mercedes Benz motorcar which was caught on video being driven recklessly in the Dunrobin area of St. Andrew. 

In the meantime, the new P-STEB boss says he’s up to the task.

And, ACP Blake says he hopes he will make an impact. 

ACP Dr Kevin Blake, New Head of the Constabulary’s Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch. 

He was speaking last evening on Nationwide @ 5 with Tyrone Reid and Franklin McKnight. 

A Legal Perspective

Meanwhile, Head of the Jamaican Bar Association, Emile Lieba, says the former head P-STEB seemingly failed to consult the police’s legal services team when formulating proposed changes to the Constabulary’s policy regarding traffic offences.

Mr. Lieba says the police do not have the level of discretion needed to execute the changes proposed by ACP Welsh.

Speaking earlier this week, ACP Welsh said persons who breach the country’s traffic laws would be taken to specialized police checkpoints to be processed for offences.

He also told the symposium that to reduce the build-up of traffic tickets, the police would also be seeking to place delinquent drivers directly before the courts.

However, Mr. Leiba says such an could not be lawfully executed for an offence that carries no risk of imprisonment.

While Mr. Leiba says he supports the tough action being proposed to treat with those who disregard the country’s traffic laws, he believes taking traffic offenders directly to court would further burden the justice system.

Emile Leiba, Head of the Jamaican Bar Association.

He was speaking during last evening’s edition of the Cover story on Nationwide @ 5.