Press Clippings

Citizens to help in re-launched Intrepid

Police Commissioner, Francis Forbes,yesterday announced a new initiative to use citizens, linked to the police by citizens band (CB) radios, to help monitor crime in their communities.

Forbes unveiled the initiative, dubbed Citizens Observation Patrol, as he formally announced the rejuvenation of Operation Intrepid, the joint police/military patrols, curfew and spot searches which has waned in recent months after activation with much fanfare nine months ago to battle rising crime.

Police Commissioner, Francis Forbes (right) makes a point during yesterday's news conference to announce the relaunch of Operation Intrepid.   At left is chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, Major General John Simmonds.

Intrepid's relauch, as was the case when it was started last July, was in response to the recent escalation of criminal violence, which reached a new high yesterday when gunmen shot dead one policeman and injured three others during fire fights in eastern Kingston.

As Forbes, members of his high command and the head of the army, Major General John Simmonds, spoke to reporters, police and soldiers were still battling the gunmen in a skirmish that had lasted several hours.

At the time of its launch, Prime Minister P J Patterson had vowed that Operation Intripid would continue until all the illegal guns were removed from the streets, but Forbes conceded that it had been scaled back because of resource problems with the constabulary and the Jamaica Defence Force.

Yesterday, he indicated that those problems had now been overcome and that the patrols could be sustained indefinitely.

"I will say that at this point in time there is no reason that we should have a difficulty maintaining Operation Intrepid at the appropriate level for it to be effective," the police commissioner said.

A new fleet of vehicles, now being painted with police insignia, as well as the availability of recently-trained police officers would allow Intreprid to continue indefinitely at a credible strength.

While the police and soldiers conduct their cordons, searches, snap raids, roadblocks and curfews, Forbes hopes that their efforts will be enhanced by the activities of the Citizens Observation Patrol.

Under this plan, a CB radio network has been Established to allow citizens to report "any unusual activities" in their communities.

For this network, which will broadcast on Channel 9, the police has established bases in:

  • Greater Portmore;
  • Spanish town;
  • Central. Kingston;
  • May Pen;
  • Montego Bay;
  • St Ann's Bay; and
  • Mandeville.

Additionally, the police will issue two-way radios to citizens. For this system, which will operate on a separate channel to that which carries regular police communication, the constabulary has established a repeater network.

Forbes, however, cautioned that he was not asking citizens to themselves interdict criminals, only report their observations to the police.

Last night, Opposition Jamaica Labour Party spokesman on security, Derrick Smith, said that the initiative was potentially positive, but said that there were questions to be answered about its proposed structure.

"Among them are the selection of the communities for 'he pilot project and the criteria by which individuals will be selected under he programme and supplied with two-way radios," Smith said.

This issue was not addressed at yesterday's press conference.

The efforts by citizen’s apart, Forbes argued that Operation Intreprid was being reactivated on a better intelligence foundation than when it was originally launched

"...We have been doing a tremendous lot of work in terms of intelligence," he said. "We have now incorporated the use of computers, for example, that have helped us to develop useful databases. We are now able to track gangs, their movements, which would include the acquisition and use of illegal -guns and ammunition, and we are now able to make linkages not only between gangs locally but, linkages overseas.

The effort, the police commissioner said, was being used by "law enforcement agencies overseas who themselves have similar problems and who have problems with some of the players who originate Joan Jamaica".