Firearms Licensing Authority ( FLA ) sets the record straight

LBC
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The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) wishes to clarify certain events which have found its way in to the public space.

The Authority was constrained previously by ongoing internal investigations which are now finalized, as such, we will lay out clearly, circumstances and achievements of our change and reform programme in chronological order, as the FLA continues on a new path of accountability as follows:

Operational Matters

· In November 2016, the Dennis Wright led board started a programme of review of some gun permits.

· In February 2017, the then board met with the Police High Command to seek assistance in investigating some of the suspicious permits. One particular case put forward for immediate attention.

· In April 2017- Board introduces a vetting policy for Senior Staff to include background checks and polygraphing. Some staff members objected and entered board Subcommittee meeting under controversial circumstances.

· May 2017- The board met with the Finger Print Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as suspicious finger print records were found on files. However, criminal records were showing convictions but finger print records were showing clean records.

· May 2017- board met with Major Organized Crime Anti Corruption Agency (MOCA) and sort help with suspicious files now numbering 257, of which 100, was to fast track and handed over. MOCA was invited to be a part of the vetting process for new applications.

· May 2017- Letter from Whistle Blower staff member received. Internal investigation and actions on allegations started by the Board.

· June 2017- Gun Amnesty starts. It allows individuals to regularize weapons for those who had not renewed their licenses. The Amnesty was to end on July 31, 2017.

· June 2017- New Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shane Dalling was employed after a long and exhaustive recruitment process.

· June 2017- Dennis Wright led Board met with Police leadership in Western Jamaica. All concerns of the police about persons who they had issues about were to be forwarded to the Board.

· Jun 2017- After 4 months, the Police High Command supplied information on applicant that was asked for in February 2017.

· July 2017- The Board based on information supplied by the Police revoked said licenses. In addition, certain licences approved 2016/2017 were revoked (Some information was not made available at the time of the approval). Further checks revealed that the notification of revocation was deliberately stalled.

· July 2017- Further checks revealed a scheme that was being operated by some staff members who approached licensed firearm holders, took their guns and ammunition and then extorted them. Some of these guns and ammunition were improperly stored at the Authority.

· July 2017- Another scheme existed whereby persons who were renewing permits under the Amnesty never came to the FLA, were allowed to renew their permits under the Gun Amnesty.

· July 2017- A search of a particular department at the Authority, a missing file connected to the “X6” murder trial was found (not the Patrick Powell file)

· July 2017- Applicants whose licences were approved, notices were held. The Applicants were called and money demanded from them to speed up the process( although they were already approved)

· July 2017- The Board reviewed the above mentioned discoveries and sent them to be further investigated and actioned.

· July 2017- Board met again. Reaffirmed programme of reform and transformation and planned a September management retreat.

· July 2017- Letter from Police leaked to the Press.

· July 2017- Board Chairman writes MOCA to investigate allegations. Board Member recluses himself to allow the internal Investigations to be unhindered.

· August 2017- Board resigns to allow MOCA free hand to investigate the Agency without interference (we ask all members of the public if they have information to contact MOCA).

· August 2017-All 257 suspicious files turned over to MOCA; plus others.

· August 2017- One Senior staff member has their contract terminated; one member on secondment returned to his organization and one by mutual consent, separated from the Authority.

· August 2017-One member of staff in western Jamaica had contract terminated. Two other staff members, by mutual consent entered in to separation agreements.

Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Reform Agenda

The Reform Agenda of the Dennis Wright led board will be continued to be implemented with vigour.

Some of the initiatives that will continue to be implemented are:

1. The reorganization of the Authority will be done with respect for all. The re classification, training and re engineering of processes will be fast tracked.

2. The re introduction of the Gun License Examination. This will commence in September.

3. The review of all files to clear the system of permits that should not be issued.

4. Introducing MOCA into the vetting process.

5. The vetting of all staff members including polygraph testing.

6. The installation of a finger print terminal at the FLA.

7. The confiscation of all guns in storage beyond the legal time.

The JCF and the JDF will be invited to examine and use any and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) will be asked to review any for historic value. All others will be sent to the JDF to be destroyed.

This process had already started (June) and ends end of September.

8. Supplying the JCF with a list of persons who have not renewed the permits during the Amnesty which ended in July (list is now complete to be handed over shortly).

9. The programme of review of all Firearm Trainers will be continued and despite objections the board policy of annual certification of trainers will be implemented.

10. The separation of new applications department from the operation of

the Review Board will lead to better protection and confidentiality.

11. The review of the Firearms Act and regulations to close gaps and modernize the law is soon to be completed.

The package of reforms passed by the Dennis Wright led board will be implemented, without fear or favour.

Until further advised this is the Programme of Transformation that will be pursued by the FLA board at this time.

Appointment of the New Board

The statutory process for naming a new Board for the Authority is well advanced.

The identification of suitable persons and their consent;

Consultations with stakeholders both local and international;

Vetting and background checks;

Are all a part of the process.

We acknowledge the anxiety of some, but seek your patience as the steps must be observed not rushed. Rest assured the process is well advanced.

We assure the public and our customers that the service they have come to expect will continue.

We apologise for any inconvenience and seek the public’s full cooperation as the transformation and reform takes place.

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