Friday, April 1, 2016

Tivoli COE: Disjointed Police – Military Operations?

From the evidence adduced at the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry there was no joint Police-Military operation in May 2010 with the prime purpose of executing the arrest warrant for Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

Officially, the warrant for the arrest of Coke was the remit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). However, given the very limited capabilities of the JCF, the assistance of the Jamaica Defence (JDF) was critical to any such operation, even more so given the influence and resources of the Don in question.

So in all operations even a token presence of a member of the JCF was mandatory outside of a declared state of emergency. In the latter case the army is given overwhelming police powers, chief among which is the power to arrest. Hence under a declared state of emergency army units need not have a member of the JCF present.

It is against this background that the operation to capture Coke must be assessed.

The surveillance party was composed of resources from the JDF and JCF. That had to be officially the case; even though it is likely that the Military Intelligence Unit and a specially trained combat team would have been the driving force.

There were two separate operational plans. The military had its “Operation Garden Parish” whilst the police had its “ Operation KeyWest”. The existence of two separate plans is not unusual in security operations.
What is startling is that the top brass of each was unaware of the other plan: DCP Glenmore Hinds --who was in charge of the JCF Operations portfolio -- was unaware of Operation Garden Parish. Major General Stewart Saunders never saw the Operational Order (ie. Operation KeyWest) before the date of his testimony before the Commission—23 June 2015.

The sharing of information was abysmal.
Major General Saunders took sole responsibility for the decision to use mortars during the Tivoli operation of May 2010. Commission of Police, Owen Ellington, knew nothing about the decision or its implementation.
DCP Glemore Hinds was not made aware of the intelligence the military had during the operation of the route Coke had used to escape on May 24,2010. DCP Hinds was a part of the “Gold Command”.

 Indeed, so glaring was this deficiency that the Commission Chairman, Sir David Simmons, was moved to declare:
              “ I find it hard to accept that if there was intelligence coming through that Coke had got away           and the route through which he had got away, that this was not shared with you as head of operation. I cannot--- I find it hard to accept. I just say that.”

The capture of Coke was also heralded as a police operation.There is no dispute that the military was critical during the surveillance operation, monitoring and the location of the eventual capture.

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