Opposition Security spokesman wants answers on disbanding of police training unit

DerrickSmith-1Kingston, Jamaica — Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, has called on Security Minister Peter Bunting to explain recent developments affecting the future of the Firearm and Tactical Training Unit (FTTU) at the Jamaica Police Academy at Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

Smith said that the Opposition is concerned about issues at the FTTU, which provides training in the efficient use of firearms by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

According to Smith his information is that the unit may have been “blacklisted” under United States’ Leahy Amendment, which prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defence from providing assistance to foreign military units “that violate human rights with impunity”.

The JLP Security Spokesman said that he has also been informed that the unit is being disbanded, and that the approximately 34 members are awaiting transfers to other sections of the JCF which are expected to be announced in the Force Orders this weekend.

Smith in a statement Wednesday said that he was advised that the members of the unit have been warned that they cannot utilize equipment provided by the US government for firearm and tactical training, including the firearms training simulation machine – which simulates real life situations, and thereby trains the police to use their weapons more efficiently.

He added that given the circumstances, it is important that Bunting clarifies the matter by confirming whether or not the unit is being disbanded; and if so, why it is being disbanded?

Smith also questioned if the matter is connected to the unit’s engagement in the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion.

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