Car wash operators allegedly ‘harassed’ by police

FROM LEFT Adrian Laing, Shane Rolle, and Elpetio Thompson.

Eight young male entrepreneurs of Jones Town, Eight Mile Rock, who opened a car wash in their community yesterday – Wednesday, November 7 – claimed that they were assaulted by police after they did not produce a business license.

Maintaining that the incident took place on Saturday, November 3, the young men alleged that they were “treated harshly” and they are now questioning the motives behind it.

In an interview with this daily three of the young entrepreneurs – Adrian Laing, Shane Rolle and Elpetio Thompson – claimed that the incident and the behavior of the law officers was “very unprofessional.”

A carpenter by trade, Laing said the car wash was built on family property and all of the workers devoted their time and hard work investing in the business, which was started to assist them with their bills, due to the high rate of unemployment.

He added that the car wash has been open for a year.

“On Saturday the policemen came and harassed us for nothing and then they grabbed all of us,” Laing maintained. “When we saw the police arrive in the driveway, we did not run because we did nothing wrong. The police placed handcuffs on us, then took us back to the station and ran our names in the system.”

Laing said that he and his friends are not criminals and are just trying to make an honest living.

Rolle, who is a welder by trade claimed, “the aggressiveness by the police was not necessary. They could’ve come there and talk to us like a man and properly questioned us about the business if they had suspicions.”

He alleged that the officers spoke to the group, “very harshly, was digging in our pockets and using foul language … they kept coming back pressuring us to let them see the permit, then began threatening to shut the car wash down.”

Thompson, who is a young father, stressed the economy is not at its best and they are not waiting on the government to deliver on promises. “Growing up all my years I never thought I would’ve needed a license for a car wash. The incident that took place, I feel it was demeaning and all of us are young men, all of us have trade, we don’t commit crimes and so I don’t feel like the police officers had to do that to us.”

Thompson claimed that the officers were, “more gangster.” Everyone under the shed is trying to make a dollar, crime is high and we are not trying to raise it higher.”

The three car wash representatives maintained that they felt “ambushed” and were all embarrassed by the incident.

Local advocate, Vandyke Hepburn heard about the alleged incident, spoke to the young men and offered some assistance. “These young boys are not working; the government needs to go and find jobs for these young fellows instead of taking away the $10.00 they make every day per car. I think the police officers went about the situation the wrong way.”

Inviting the public to drive around Jones Town, Hepburn noted that one will see a dead area.

Hepburn questioned the motives of the police officers. “There is nothing happening in this area, these men took the initiative to open up a car wash, something that is positive in the community, they’re not causing any problems, they’re not robbing anyone. A lot  of people do not know you need a license to wash car. Let’s do things in a proper way.”

Officer-in-Charge of the Eight Mile Rock Division, Supt. Kimberley Taylor said that she was not aware of the incident but promised to look into the matter.

However, she added that it is the duty of an officer, if he or she has a suspicion to enforce the law. “I can look into the situation, but if it were any police from my station I would’ve known.”

She noted that if the young men felt aggrieved, “they could have come into the station and speak with me or another senior officer.”

Police Press Officer ASP Terecita Pinder, in a response to the alleged incident said that a business license should be clearly visible and or when asked to produce one, operators of a business must be able to. “the officers are here to uphold the law and carry out their duties.”

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