Smith Wants Answers On Disbanding Of FTTU

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

Mr. 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).

He noted that his information is that the unit may have been “blacklisted” under United States’ Leahy Amendment, which prohibits the U.S. 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 Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) which are expected to be announced in the Force Orders this weekend.

He went on to indicate 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.

Mr. Smith said that there are a number of concerns about this development, as questions have arisen primarily about the reasons for the “blacklisting” of the members of the unit; whether it has to do with the conditions of the US Leahy Amendment; and what were the actions taken by members of the unit which may have led to these actions.

He said that the issue also has to be seen in the context of the imminent start of the enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens Incursion of May, 2010, and the fact that the unit was involved in the incursion, in support of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and other police units.

In closing Security Spokesman Smith said that in the circumstances, it is important that Minister Bunting clarify the matter by responding to the following queries:
(1)    Will the Minister confirm whether the unit is being disbanded?
(2)    If so, why it is being disbanded?
(3)    Whether this was as a result of the provisions of the Leahy Act?, and
(4)    Whether the matter is connected to the unit’s engagement in the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion.