INDECOM handling of police personnel criticised as murdered woman constable laid to rest
As lawmen gathered yesterday for the funeral of Police Constable Crystal Thomas, Chairman of the Police Federation Sergeant Raymond Wilson lamented the failure of the State to create a level playing field between criminals and the security forces.
"The police can be forced to give statements, yet still you cannot do that to the criminals," Wilson said as he criticised the Independent Commission of Investigations' (INDECOM) handling of police personnel under probe.
"Why should they have any more rights than the police or any other citizen?" he added to rousing applause during the service held yesterday at the Seventh-day Church of God at Darling Pen in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
But during a Gleaner Editors' Forum last month, INDECOM dismissed similar claims that criminals are being allowed to spread mayhem because the commission's rigid oversight of the police has caused some crime fighters to drop their hands.
"It is wrong for anyone to tell a police officer that he should lay down arms and almost put the country to ransom, saying, 'I am not going to do my work if you make me accountable'," INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams said during the forum.
Thomas, 24, was shot and killed after she challenged gunmen who were attempting to rob passengers on a bus along Spanish Town Road in St Andrew on July 14.
A suspect in her murder, 29-year-old Marlon Cherrington, subsequently died in hospital after being beaten while in custody at the Hunt's Bay police lock-up. The police say he was assaulted by fellow inmates.
CRIES FOR JUSTICE
As he addressed the congregation, Wilson demanded marches and cries for justice from varying interest groups, "just like when criminals are killed".
"We in the force have been given the proverbial basket to carry water. We need help from the public and the Church in particular," Wilson said, adding that criminals are 'highly sponsored' with sophisticated weaponry, but police personnel still cannot buy basic food items.
During the funeral, there were greetings from Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams, National Security Minister Peter Bunting, and Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith.
A sombre mood flowed through the service with tears streaming down the faces of Thomas' colleagues and other mourners.
With each tribute, the late policewoman was described as a compassionate individual who left a void that would be hard to fill.
- Rasbert Turner