Finzi-Smith on reining in supporters who hang from buses in motorcades Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Tragedy has struck at least twice on the political motorcades of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP), but party supporters continue to hang from vehicles as campaigning intensifies ahead of the February 26 local government election.

An elderly JLP supporter lost a part of her left leg after the bus she was travelling in was involved in a crash in Yallahs, St Thomas on Nomination Day, February 8, and on February 18, a 15-year-old boy of Gregory Park, Portmore in St Catherine, fell and hit his head and was later pronounced dead at a hospital. He was part of a PNP motorcade that was making its way through Portmore when he reportedly attempted to jump from one bus to the next and lost his balance.

Supporters of the two main political parties usually flout the Road Traffic Act and other laws during election campaigns. 

Loop News spoke with security expert Robert Finzi-Smith to get his perspective on what can be done to rein in the problem before anyone else gets hurt.

The former head of security at the University of Technology, Jamaica noted that it is a longstanding problem that presents a potentially dangerous situation for the police.

“When a police officer pulls over one [of these vehicles], invariably all of them are in breach. Let us say the entire convoy obeys him and stops, the accusation is going to be that the policeman is acting politically.

“If it’s a [Jamaica] Labour Party convoy, they’re going to say he’s a PNP police and if it’s a PNP convoy, they’re going to say he belongs to the [Jamaica] Labour Party.”

Finzi-Smith said there was nothing to prevent police personnel from taking note of the registration numbers of the vehicle in question, writing down the offence and, at another date and time, summoning the driver, or the owner, and prosecuting them for the breach.

The security expert noted that this approach would ensure that the police “are not involved in a face-off with a crowd of very partisan people”. He said the person driving the vehicle would now be “very aware of the fact that there will come a time when they’re in breach”.

He also said the police should video-record the incidents.

“It doesn’t have to be immediately confrontational, but the consequences will come,” said Finzi-Smith.

He said the political parties should also be asked to give account for the behaviour of their supporters.