Police and Church Set Guidelines for Handing Over of Wanted Persons, Guns and Contraband
Guidelines and protocols are now in place for the handling and handing over of wanted persons, illegal firearms, ammunition, and contraband to the police by members of the clergy and other religious organisations.
The guidelines were formalised with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by representatives from the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches (JUGC) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) during a ceremony at the Ministry in Kingston yesterday (November 22).
The MOU, which has been in the works since 2014, is slated to last for five years and will be reviewed annually.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Robert Montague said the agreement is a demonstration of the commitment of the church to actively partner with the Government in fighting crime and building a safer Jamaica.
“We have codified what has been long practised… so in having it in black and white, it solves a lot of problems and I don’t have to think and believe, I just have to follow the… steps that are there,” he said.
He reminded members of the clergy not to “lay hands” on illegal weapons or contraband, as they will have to undergo forensic testing.
“The MOU is very clear that when a wanted person comes in, you don’t have to interrogate, you don’t have to find out why is he wanted and what is he wanted for; that’s none of your affair. Your affair is to provide that safe space to engage him and to hand him over,” he pointed out.
Mr. Montague informed that a similar MOU will be established for Lay Magistrates and Justices of the Peace (JPs).
“It is our intention to partner with everybody in the fight against crime, because fighting crime in Jamaica is a national priority,” he said.
Commissioner of Police, Dr. Carl Williams said the partnership is critical, as the role of the clergy is indispensable in dealing with crime and violence in Jamaica.
He said the MOU will ensure that men of the cloth will not find themselves before the court for any reason in trying to help the police and society.
He noted that the church is the largest single body in Jamaica. “Your reach is very wide, it’s extraordinary, you have influence and you have respect. You have the trust of a wide cross section of Jamaica and, as such, there can be no more important partner in dealing with the issues of crime and violence in communities,” Dr. Williams said.
Cassel Dunkley, who represented the Jamaica Pentecostal Union (Apostolic), said he will ensure that the protocol is widely circulated among the membership.
The list of churches under the Jamaican Umbrella Groups include Church of God in Jamaica, Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, Jamaica Association of Independent Churches, Jamaica Council of Churches, Jamaica Evangelical Alliance, Jamaica Pentecostal Union, and the Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventist Churches.