Mon | Nov 11, 2019

Danger around corner, ACP Welsh warns motorists

Published:Tuesday | August 27, 2019 | 12:29 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Bishop Dr Gary Welsh, speaks with Maleek Powell, who lost his sister in a fatal motor vehicle accident, during yesterday’s International Symposium on Traffic Crash Investigation and Black Box Analysis at Caribbean Maritime University.
Head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Bishop Dr Gary Welsh, speaks with Maleek Powell, who lost his sister in a fatal motor vehicle accident, during yesterday’s International Symposium on Traffic Crash Investigation and Black Box Analysis at Caribbean Maritime University.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bishop Dr Gary Welsh has signalled that the traffic police will be stepping up its vigilance to clamp down on motorists who violate the Road Traffic Act.

Welsh, who heads the police’s Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, last week faced the heat for pardoning Dennis Dietrih, who confessed to pulling off a daring stunt at a busy Corporate Area intersection over a week ago. Since the police ordered Dietrih to apologise, a new recording of the incident has thrown open a probe to determine the true identity of the man behind the wheel.

Speaking at yesterday’s opening ceremony for the First International Symposium on Traffic Crash Investigation and Black box Analysis at the Caribbean Maritime University in Kingston, Welsh said that come September 1, motorists will begin facing the full force of the law for breaches of the Road Traffic Act.

“We want to remove discretion so that people understand that the law has teeth,” Welsh said.

He pointed out that so far this year, around 335,467 traffic tickets have been issued, compared to the 335,069 issued between January 1 to August 26 last year.

With roughly 40,000 warrants outstanding for traffic violators, Welsh also made an appeal for those persons to report to the authorities.

“If you suspect you have a warrant out for you, you can come in to us and negotiate. You have the opportunity, so do it now, because come September 1, that will not exist. I know people will say that it is cruel to arrest people on their way to their wedding rehearsal. If that is where we catch you, we are taking you in. When you come in, we are going to run your licence to see if you have outstanding warrants, owe child support, or if you are part of a gang,” the ACP declared.

Welsh, who was transferred to the traffic division early last month, explained that his team will be taking a no-nonsense approach to traffic management.

He also took issue with laws restricting how the police treats with motorcyclists.

“Someone said to me that I should lock them up, but I said I can’t, because I am restrained by law and there are limits to what the police can do,” Welsh said.

He revealed that last Friday, he led a team in Westmoreland and Hanover – two parishes notorious for deadly crashes involving motorcyclists – and 580 tickets were issued.

He said the police only managed to confiscate 40 motorcycles.

“The other 270, we had to allow them to go because we are not allowed to take away motorcycles because they are not wearing helmets. The law says we are to give them a ticket,” said Welsh.

“As of September 1, we are going to set up customer service centres for people who run afoul of the Road Traffic Act,” he said. “You will not be pulled over on the highways or narrow corridors. Since the number of tickets seems to be mounting, we are going to be using summons. This removes the option of just paying a fine. If someone is arrested on a bench warrant, we will take you to court when it is convenient.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com