Jamaica Gleaner / While some persons are allowed unfettered access through checkpoints in the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO)-controlled Denham Town in west Kingston, others are properly searched before leaving or entering, as per the terms of the operations.
This unusual activity, however, has prompted a Gleaner news investigation.
We put the matter to ZOSO Liaison officer Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, who said that the modus operandi of the joint command is explicit in how the security forces must carry out their duties.
“The fact is that once there is a curfew, the security has the right to search everyone passing in and out of the cordoned-off area,” Lindsay said.
“It is also the same within the ZOSO. People must be searched, their IDs presented each time they leave and return to the area.”
But close observation of the Regent Street checkpoint showed how lax security monitoring has become.
Several persons were seen walking by the checkpoint without providing the security forces with identification. Those persons were also not searched.
When The Gleaner news team queried the situation, we were told by one female constable at the Regent Street Joint Command checkpoint: “This is so – as explained by the ZOSO law – that persons should be searched if deemed a suspect.”
When asked a second time, she responded in like manner, telling The Gleaner reporter that the security forces could carry out searches on persons who looked suspicious.
However, Lindsay said that the constable’s understanding of the ZOSO rules of engagement is flawed.
In addition, when The Gleaner news team attempted to gain access to Denham Town through the same Regent Street checkpoint, even though accredited to access the area, we were denied entry.
In the meantime, one resident, who gave her name only as Sonia, explained what she perceived as a breakdown in the security of the community-access points.
“This a joke ting. It seem to me dat now that di police dem familiar wid some of us, we can just go through without a question. I get search every time, enuh, but some people I know don’t get search, so I just leave it alone,” she said.