Pulled after election
The Sunday Gleaner understands that some members of the former administration had their security details pulled shortly after the Jamaica Labour Party was elected to form the new government in February, and several persons who avoided that cut have been caught this time around. They include former ministers Dr Wykeham McNeill, Morais Guy and Sandrea Falconer, as well as former minister without portfolio Luther Buchanan. Former state ministers Richard Azan and Colin Fagan have also been notified that they will lose their close-protection officers.
According to Sunday Gleaner sources, two former ministers have been told that while they will be allowed to retain a security detail the number of close-protection officers will be drastically reduced. Last week, McNeill confirmed that he had received the notification but had not yet sought clarification on the matter. “I simply have not had the time to act on the letter. So let me make some checks and I will get back to you,” said McNeill.
A similar confirmation came from Guy. “Yes, I have been notified that the close-protection officer assigned to me will be withdrawn. But I am in no quarrel with anyone,” said Guy. The Police High Command has long signalled its intention to review the assignment of close-protection officers, and last year then Security Minister Peter Bunting told Parliament that changes were coming.
At that time Bunting, who is now the opposition spokesman on national security, indicated the close-protection officer would be assigned based primarily on security threat and risk assessments of the persons being protected. “Except for the governor general, the prime minister, Cabinet ministers, the leader of the opposition and former prime ministers, all the assignment of close-protection officers will be based on recommendations informed by the threat assessment,” said Bunting.
“Where it is revealed that threat levels are not significant, officers will be redeployed to augment the personnel at geographical divisions,” added Bunting. Efforts to get a comment from the Police High Command were unsuccessful last week as head of the VIP Protection Division, Senior Superintendent Ronald Anderson, referred our news team to Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds, who was unavailable. Police Commissioner Carl Williams was also out of office, with sources indicating that he could be out for a short period because of a medical issue.