Top brass of St Elizabeth police reassigned

BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth – Against the backdrop of Monday’s jailbreak here by eight inm
ates, including a man charged with a quadruple murder, the police high command on Friday announced a major management shake-up at the St Elizabeth Division and the interdiction of two members of the constabulary.

Senior police sources told the Jamaica Observer on Friday afternoon that the entire leadership of the division was reassigned following Monday’s escape of the inmates from the Black River Police Station lock-up.

In a press release, the police’s communication unit confirmed that the high command made several immediate changes in the management and supervision of the division following the jailbreak.

The police said Deputy Superintendent of Police Coleridge Minto will immediately assume duties as commanding officer for the division, while Superintendent Kenneth Chin will take up duties at the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF’s) Area 5 headquarters in the Corporate Area.

“Changes have been made to the post of administration officer, the operations officer, as well as to other supervisory posts at the station level. These changes will facilitate a thorough and unimpeded investigation into the circumstances leading to the escape of the inmates as the investigation progresses. Two JCF members have been interdicted, pending further inquiries,” the release said.

An investigation is ongoing to ascertain the circumstances involving the jailbreak at the Black River Police Station, which has surveillance cameras and houses the parish’s Jamaica Eye monitoring centre.

“The Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau is leading a comprehensive management review of the division. The relevant video footage has been secured and is being reviewed, while our Scenes of Crime Unit has visited the location and collected essential evidence. This will allow us to assess the underlying causes of the escape and evaluate the degree of adherence, over time, to JCF policies and guidelines,” said the release.

In a press release earlier this week, the constabulary’s Corporate Communications Unit said police were conducting a routine cell check at approximately 6:00 am on Monday when they realised that the men had escaped.

“They cut the metal bar at the window. It has to be a machine they use to cut that. One cell guard with 60-odd prisoners,” a police source told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

The eight high-risk detainees, including Anward “Kirkie” Hinds, charged with a quadruple murder, escaped, triggering concerns about security measures at the lock-up.

Hinds has been charged in relation to the murders of four farmers — Archibald Brown, 60; his brother George Brown, 57; Maurice Sanderson, 40; and Ezra Wright, 73 — in the remote community of Claremont in St Elizabeth on May 27, 2015.

At that time, police had said he was believed to be the leader of a criminal organisation said to be a remnant of the infamous Stone Crusher gang.

In July 2015, he was found hiding in the ceiling of a house in Hatfield, Manchester, and was apprehended.

The other detainees who escaped on Monday are Oral Cole, 31, from Comfort Hall, Manchester; Richard Brown, 34, from Middle Quarters, St Elizabeth; Alrick Hutchinson, 38, from Brighton District, St Elizabeth; and Dean Simpson, 34, from Turner Top, St Elizabeth, who were all in custody charged with robbery with aggravation; Jevaughn Simms, 25, from Copperwood, St James; and Kenneth Stewart, 30, from Beacon Hill, St Catherine, were both being held for murder; and Demar Williams, 29, from Gravel Heights in Spanish Town, St Catherine, who is facing a shooting with intent charge.