Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Judge orders 'death squad' cops personnel records turned over

Published:Monday | February 22, 2016 | 2:00 AMLivern Barrett
Carl Williams
Terrence Williams
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A High Court judge has ordered Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams to hand over to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) the personnel records of all the policemen now facing criminal charges for allegedly being part of so-called 'death squads'.

Justice Bryan Sykes has also given Williams 120 days to comply with the order.

The order, which was handed down in the Supreme Court last week in a case INDECOM brought against Williams, covers all disciplinary records, administrative reviews and "all other records" related to the so-called 'death squad' probe being conducted by the oversight body.

Sykes, however, indicated that the information is subject to legal professional privilege, public interest immunity, and the policemen's constitutional right to privacy.

COURT ASKED TO INTERVENE

A total of 11 policemen have been arrested and placed before the courts on several counts of murder and shooting with intent arising from incidents which, according to INDECOM, were initially reported as civilian homicides.

Among them is Detective Corporal Kevin Adams, who is charged with four counts of murder, and Constable Collis Brown, who is facing three counts of murder.

INDECOM boss Terrence Williams explained that the oversight body sought the intervention of the courts after failing to reach an agreement with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on what personnel records of serving members could be disclosed under the INDECOM Act.

"Between the JCF and us, there was a respectful disagreement as regards what information we could get regarding the disciplinary records of their men, of reviews done of shootings, of plans for planned operations," he told The Gleaner.

Confirming that the information requested was in relation to what is officially the Clarendon investigations, the INDECOM head said his agency was seeking to determine whether commanding officers shared any responsibility for the killings that result from the actions of the various police teams under their supervision.

"That is, did they plan the operations properly? Did they review the operations properly? Did they select members of teams properly?" he questioned.

As a result, INDECOM asked the court for a declaration that under sections 4, 12 and 21 of the INDECOM Act, it was entitled to access all materials relating to administrative reviews, disciplinary procedures and records, suspensions from duty and operational plans involving members of the JCF.

The oversight body also asked the court to find that for the Clarendon probe, it was entitled to information about the structure of the Police Area Three street crime and proactive investigation units from as far back as 2009; the members of those teams; their disciplinary records before joining; and notes from the administrative review of particular incidents.

The INDECOM head said Sykes denied the first declaration, indicating that the request was "overly broad".

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com