LAW ENFORCEMENT authorities should be congratulated for their work on Sunday in relation to the Buju Banton concert. Such was the zeal with which the police approached their job that even Banton was subject to a search in the comfort of his hotel room.
However, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s subsequent intervention in this matter was as gratuitous as it was uncomfortable. Griffith may well have cause to criticise the way his men handled intelligence in relation to Banton. It is not the first time intelligence has proven wrong.
And the number of officers deployed has led some to question whether the action was proportionate. But it is the job of the Commissioner to stand by his men until given clear grounds not to do so. Where grounds for criticism are unearthed, he should act to hold officers to account.
What is wrong about Griffith’s decision to turn up at the hotel room of Banton hours after the raid is that it risked deepening an already fraught situation. The last thing the Commissioner should have done is knock on the door of the alleged victim in the middle of the night.
Griffith’s ire with his own officers is such that he has precipitated long-gestating reform of the intelligence agencies. Details of the reshuffle are to be revealed tomorrow. Though long in coming, any measures announced would create an impression of restructuring by vaps, deepening the sense of a one-man show. That can’t be the way to unveil serious changes.
Banton’s presence in the country itself threw a spotlight on our woeful immigration laws. As Maurice Tomlinson’s case before the CCJ reminded us years ago, the Immigration Act needs to be reformed. It is archaic, homophobic and places too much power into the hands of political actors such as the Minister of National Security.
The process by which search warrants are executed has also long been subject to complaints. The recent visit by the police to media premises tied to Sat Maharaj re-ignited discussion of this mere days ago. Yet, police have a duty to enforce laws as they currently stand.
That is what the Jamaican police did in 2014 when they denied Abu Bakr entry to their country. For Griffith to publicly chastise the action involved in the search on Banton’s room while standing up for that in relation to the visit to Maharaj’s premises sends confusing signals.
The politician in Griffith may well assess that his appearance onstage alongside Banton on Sunday was a high point, repairing damage in the eyes of the public. It was actually a low-point, from the perspective of the officers who serve under him, who were probably doing little more than their job on Saturday.