Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2013 Contents There are baffling discrepancies
between the media accounts of what
happened at the Duncan Street Police
Post last Friday and the account given
on Wednesday by Housing Development
Corporation managing director Jearlean
Last week, Kenneth "Spanish"
Rodriguez said he was a registered con-
tractor with not one but two contracts---
the $2 million contract to convert an
HDC apartment building on Duncan
Street into a police post and another at
the Beetham, also for the HDC, where
two buildings are being constructed. He
also said he was doing work for the East
Port-of-Spain Development Company.
Now Ms John is saying a Chaguanas
contractor, FIQH General Contractors, is
doing the job and Mr Rodriguez is nei-
ther a contractor nor subcontractor on
the Duncan Street project. In fact, she
claims not to know whether he is even
a worker on the project.
The discrepancies need to be cleared
up, particularly in light of the comments
and criticisms of this issue coming from
Mr Rodriguez, who denies any
involvement in gang activity, was arrest-
ed as a gang member during the 2011
state of emergency but later released
In 2006, he was part of a major peace
initiative in Laventille involving commu-
nity leaders in the area, including Sean
"Bill" Francis, Kerwin "Fresh" Phillip
and the Sandy brothers. Most of those
other community leaders have since
been gunned down.
A few days ago, Mr Rodriguez featured
prominently in a tour of the construc-
tion site by Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal, who was then acting as prime
minister, along with Ms John, acting
Police Commissioner Stephen Williams
and other officials.
He met and greeted Dr Moonilal and
escorted the official delegation as they
toured the first and second floors of the
These do not seem to be the actions
of an enthusiastic worker who was "just
around." The official contractors later
identified by Ms John were nowhere in
sight on that occasion and have been
silent since then, while controversy over
the project continues to escalate.
Acting CoP Williams recently said that
the police have passed on information to
the government about the involvement
of Mr Rodriguez in gang activity.
In light of all these developments, Dr
Moonilal, as the line minister, must
clarify the policy on selection of con-
tractors and whether this policy was
adhered to in the case of the Duncan
Street police post.
National Security Minister Gary Grif-
fith has been clear and forthright on the
line he feels should be taken---no con-
tracts for those identified by police as
having been involved in gang-related
The current government is on record
as being severely critical of the previous
one for associating with "community
leaders" who were known to be involved
in crime, most of whom have since
come to violent ends.
If the government has now adopted a
different position, that should be
revealed and explained. If not, the pub-
lic needs to be assured that an under-
stood and agreed policy is in place and
that all ministers and state agencies are
on the same page.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force represents a
substantial bloc of potential votes, which the
big-policies parties try hard to please and be-
fore which they tend to genuflect, if not grovel.
For a long time, the police played this influence
to the hilt; they frustrated efforts to hold them
to account and to lessen their ability to behave
In recent years, there has been a breach of that
resistance, exemplified especially by the cre-
ation of the Independent Commission of Inves-
tigations (Indecom), the body that investigates
citizens' complaints of abuse by members of
the security forces.
But old bad habits don't die easily, as the Police
Federation, the union of rank-and-file cops, is
now showing in what this newspaper can only
interpret as an effort to undermine Indecom
and to blackmail the country into acquiescence.
With their country, at over 40 per 100,000,
having one of the world's highest homicide
rates, Jamaicans are concerned about crime.
The police know this. They talk about it a lot.
What the constabulary has not been particu-
larly good at, however, is solving crime. Of the
more than 1,000 murders that are committed
in Jamaica annually, less than a third are
cleared up, in that the police identify a clear
Specific figures are not available, but the anec-
dotal evidence suggests that of those cases
for which there are suspects, only a handful
ever reach the courts, where the conviction
rate is not impressive.
Police homicides in Jamaica are, however, by
international standards, high. Annually, on aver-
age, the police kill well over 200 citizens, most
of whom are reported to have engaged them
Until the advent of Indecom, Jamaicans were
not confident that police homicides were ade-
quately investigated. But the Police Federation
doesn't like the rigour with which Indecom
goes about its job.
Clear the air on HDC contracts
These do not seem to be the actions of an enthusiastic worker who was "just around."
The official contractors later identified by Ms John were nowhere in sight on that occasion and
have been silent since then, while controversy over the project continues to escalate.
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