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
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
The efforts by citizens 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,
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".