Wrong and strong

A justice of the peace (JP) who worked with the police at four different sections of the Corporate Area on Sunday, April 11 has expressed surprise and disappointment at the number of Jamaicans who breached the no-movement order during the second COVID-19 lockdown weekend and who, when stopped and asked to legitimise their action, were dismissive of law enforcement personnel.

“A lot of people were just wrong and strong,” Roxene Nickle shared with the Jamaica Observer last week, adding that among the individuals found wanting in their behaviour were a fellow JP, a policeman, and a nurse.

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone, but some of them are persons who should have a better understanding that they are breaking the law,” said Nickle who is also a producer and programme host on The Edge 105 FM, one of the two radio stations in the Observer Communication Group.

Nickle said that the JP, who was not on duty with the police, showed his identification on request, but when he was told that it applied only if he was working he “cussed me off. He was really carrying on bad”.

She related that the cop was driving a high-end motor car and was not in uniform. He was signalled by the police to stop and asked to put his window down. When he was questioned he responded, in a defiant tone, that he was a policeman. He was, however, recognised by one of the cops on duty and was allowed to proceed.

“A woman being driven in a private car was stopped and when asked where she was going she replied, with a lot of attitude, ‘I am a private nurse at TT [Tony Thwaites Wing at University Hospital of the West Indies]. When she was asked for her ID she said she didn’t have it. So we asked for her letter stating that she is allowed to move during the curfew hours and she said ‘the letter is going to be ready on Tuesday’. When it was pointed out that this was the second weekend lockdown, she said ‘Well, I have to be there and I don’t need to have an ID’,” Nickle related.

She said the team leader of the JPs was eventually able to get confirmation that the woman was indeed a nurse at the hospital and that she was asked to get there because of a difficulty with one of her patients. However, the driver of the car, who had no document indicating that he had permission to be on the road, received a summons to appear in court.

“A lot of people weren’t wearing masks. That was troubling. We had to be telling them to put on their mask,” Nickle said as she shared other encounters, some of them humorous.

“There were so many excuses. When we got to one particular spot everybody we stopped was heading to hospital to look for their mother, or going to the airport, but couldn’t show boarding passes,” Nickle said.

For instance, a taxi with three passengers was stopped and only one, a female, had a boarding pass. When the other passengers were asked why she had to be accompanied to the airport, the response was that they wanted to ensure that she was not kidnapped.

“There was one person with a UHWI prescription pad stating in handwriting: ‘You can come and look for your mother at the hospital’.

“A young woman, casually dressed and wearing a bonnet, gave the excuse that she was on her way to work. When asked where she works, she said a manufacturing company. The police reminded her that it was Sunday and that it was highly unlikely that the company was open. He asked her for her work ID. She said she didn’t have it with her but produced her driver’s licence. The policeman told her to return home for the ID and the letter giving her permission to travel during the curfew hours. He kept her driver’s licence to ensure that she would return. She drove off, but shortly after returned and admitted that she was really going to buy food,” Nickle said.

Other people who were stopped claimed to be going to work, and some, who were unable to show their driver’s licence, gave the excuse that they were “rushing out to go pick up somebody”.

There was also the case of two young men on a motorbike who were not wearing masks or helmets and who had no documents for the vehicle.

When they were asked where they were going they said, “to get a football”.

They were on the brink of shedding heavy tears on being detained.

A female motorist, who had no documents for the car she was driving and was unable to show her driver’s licence, was detained despite throwing a tantrum.

Nickle also told of a young man and his girlfriend with balloons travelling in a taxi who, on being stopped, said they had left the girlfriend’s birthday celebration at a hotel to deal with “a family dispute”.

“All three of them got summonses,” she said as they had no letter giving them permission to be on the streets.

She also said that a group of six entertainers, who had an unstamped letter stating that they were allowed to travel between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm, was detained for over an hour until their employer showed up with a legitimate letter stating that they did indeed have permission.

At least 19 summonses were issued between Sunday and Easter Monday.

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