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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – POLICE Commissioner George Quallo is confirming that he will not resign from the post he has occupied for the past nine months, even as the relationship between him and National Security Minister Robert Montague took a frigid turn yesterday.
He was responding to a Jamaica Observer Online story, posted yesterday, that he could be leaving the job.
Quallo, who has been facing heat from Montague over the embarrassing six-hour traffic gridlock along the Palisadoes stretch on January 1, was summoned to a meeting yesterday at the security minister’s office in Kingston.
At that meeting, Commissioner Quallo was accompanied by some members of the executive of the Police Officers’ Association who came out as a show of support for the commissioner. The POA members did not actually participate in the meeting.
Sources in the National Security Ministry had told the Observer that the commissioner was told that it was time to examine his options during the meeting, which lasted for approximately 10 minutes. It is further understood that Quallo will be continuing his duties as commissioner until his retirement becomes official later this year. Police officers retire at age 60 or after serving for 30 continuous years.
Yesterday, Quallo, who enlisted in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on November 29, 1976, told the Observer that he had no intention of resigning from the post he started on April 18, 2017. He served as deputy commissioner of police with responsibility for the territorial operations portfolio before assuming the position.
He also said that some aspects of the story were not entirely accurate, as the security minister did not ask him to resign.
In a news release subsequently sent to the media yesterday, he said that he is committed to the people of Jamaica, and asserted that he will continue to lead the men and women of the JCF in fulfilling their primary responsibility to serve, protect, and reassure.
The police have been taking flak over the New Year’s Day traffic pile-up on the Palisadoes strip in east Kingston which severely delayed traffic to and from at the Norman Manley International Airport and shamed Jamaica in the eyes of the world.
In a scathing rebuke of Montague, the POA said in a news release late Sunday night that it is concerned about the serious distractions from the management of major crime in recent times and has accused the minister of directly interfering in the operations portfolio of the commissioner of police.
In the release, under the signature of Chairman Superintendent Catherine Lord, the POA made it clear that the actions of Minister Montague are likely to derail law enforcement strategies to combat crime.
The POA represent JCF officers from the rank of assistant superintendent and upwards.
In its Sunday statement, the POA stated that it was very concerned about promotions within the JCF, the handling of the entertainment event held on New Year’s Day in the vicinity of the Palisadoes strip, and the direct interference in the distribution of vehicles within the JCF.
Yesterday, Superintendent Lord, speaking with the media about the commissioner’s meeting with the security minister, said the POA was happy that Quallo had not resigned and that he had the full backing of the association.
This frosty relationship between the police and the Government comes in the middle of wage negotiations with unions representing public sector workers.
The Jamaica Police Federation, in a news release yesterday, reminded the Government that the entire rank and file members of the JCF are eagerly anticipating the outcome of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at which the current disruption in the sector was scheduled to be discussed.
“We urge the Government to be creative in their thinking and formulate solutions that will improve the income of the hard-working men and women of the JCF. We must reiterate our stance that the welfare of our rank and file members is our first priority,” General Secretary Sergeant Cecil McCalla said.
It said that the Police Federation wants to bring a timely and amicable closure to these negotiations.
Yesterday as well, the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) called on the security minister to tender his resignation.
The PNP, in a news release, said that the national security situation, with 1,617 murders last year and a record start for 2018 of over 40 in a week, make it clear that Montague cannot lead the fight and has lost the confidence of the police and the population as a whole.
“The PNP is again calling on the minister to resign with immediate effect and provide the prime minister with a clean page to fight the crime monster,” the release said.