Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Stripped - Operational responsibilities pulled from senior cops ripped by Tivoli commission report

Published:Wednesday | August 10, 2016 | 8:00 AMLivern Barrett
Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake.
Terrence Williams, Commissioner of INDECOM.
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Two high-ranking members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have been stripped of all operational responsibilities as a result of scathing criticisms from the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry about their conduct during the May 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake revealed yesterday that the two senior officers - who were among five serving members singled out for stinging criticism by the Sir David Simmons-chaired commission - were transferred to other areas of the JCF in the last two months.

"They have been transferred out of operational duties to administrative duties," Blake disclosed during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's downtown Kingston offices.

He declined to divulge the names of the officers, but according to law-enforcement insiders, one is an assistant commissioner, while the other is a deputy superintendent.

Head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Terrence Williams, who was also a guest at the forum, questioned whether the two officers - in their new roles - would be supervising police personnel carrying out operational duties.

"I'm saying no," Blake insisted.

He said of the three remaining police personnel singled out by the Simmons' commission, one is now part of an unrelated JCF training course, while the others continue to perform normal duties.

The decision of the Police High Command to transfer the two senior officers is in keeping with one of several recommendations regarding the JCFmade by the three-member commission.

"Where the accusations of extrajudicial killings on the part of the security forces were found by this commission to be credible, and where persons were identified as being in dereliction of duty or were administratively or operationally incompetent, we recommend that these persons should never again be allowed to lead or otherwise participate in internal security operations," the commission wrote.

"The persons to whom we refer are [then] Senior Superintendent Donovan Graham [the JCF ground commander during the operations], [then] Senior Superintendent Winchroy Budhoo, Deputy Superintendent Everton Tabannah, Sergeant Steve Waugh and Sergeant Mario Pratt," the report continued.

The commissioners were particularly critical of Tabannah, indicating that "there are too many important and unexplained discrepancies" in his testimony "to render it credible".

Tabannah, in his reply, indicated that the "unexplained discrepancies" could easily have been the result of errors by other witnesses.

"It is not demonstrated that the same has been applied to the JDF [Jamaica Defence Force] and other witnesses as has been applied to the JCF," he asserted.

Last month, the Police High Command also announced that it had accepted another recommendation by the Simmons commission for an independent administrative review of the conduct of several high-ranking police officers and their subordinates during the 2010 operations that were aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The high command said then that the findings of the review panel would determine the next course of action.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com