Editorial | Scapegoating INDECOM is not the answer
It is becoming a bit tired now. Prime Minister Holness has to realise his reprisal of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, thrusting wildly at windmills, suggests that he does not understand that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is not the enemy of the State. If that is not the case, we are tempted to believe that he is playing to the gallery by hinting at the need to reform INDECOM amid perceived slights by members of the constabulary. We expected better from him than throwing red meat to bared teeth.
Galloping murders have been blamed, partly, on the zealousness with which the oversight body investigates police shootings and other confrontations to assess whether or not breaches of due process occur. INDECOM's mandate is to protect Jamaican citizens from excesses that compromise confidence in the national security architecture and to absolve efficient cops of guilt in the conduct of their operations. The overwhelming majority of cases INDECOM probes clear the police of culpability of sinister or reckless motive.
Stab in the dark
Yet in the face of unchallengeable evidence, Mr Holness persists in taking a stab in the dark, rehashing what appear to baseless concerns about INDECOM's protocol. We urge the prime minister to remember the antecedents of INDECOM, including hundreds of extrajudicial police shootings annually that still coincided with rising murder figures in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The perpetual scapegoating of INDECOM for the failure of successive governments and police administrations to rein in spiralling murder will undermine an institution that has done much to restrain the culture of cavalier shoot-'em-up law enforcement and demand accountability.
Poor or low-income constituents who dominate the profile of Mr Holness' gritty West Central St Andrew riding, and Peter Phillips' East Central St Andrew, are among those most likely to be protected by INDECOM from arbitrarily fatal police shootings. Maybe those constituents should sit down the prime minister and opposition leader and school them that a robust, fearless INDECOM is in the public interest.