Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Quallo changes tone - Top cop, JCF accept West Kgn commission report

Published:Monday | August 21, 2017 | 8:00 AMJovan Johnson
Police Commissioner George Quallo.

In an apparent attempt to quell tensions around the recent release of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) administrative review of its role in the 2010 operation in Tivoli Gardens, Police Commissioner George Quallo has declared, in no uncertain terms, that the force accepts the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.

The stance, revealed late Saturday night in a force statement quoting Quallo, followed the intervention of National Security Minister Robert Montague as public outrage intensified over the JCF review report that questioned the integrity of the commission of enquiry and cleared senior police personnel of wrongdoing.

Quallo, however, remained silent on whether the review report would be withdrawn.

"[The] Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), as an arm of the State, remains in one accord with the Government, and accepts the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry," read the statement issued Saturday night.

It followed a Friday statement in which the commissioner reiterated his support for the administrative review report while also revealing that the Jamaica Police Federation and Police Officers' Association were backing him.

But within 24 hours, Quallo, who the public defender has said is "severely compromised", had adjusted his tone after meeting with Montague, who was reportedly instructed by the Cabinet to get the police to change its position.

 

ALWAYS UNIFIED

 

According to the commissioner, "it must never be construed that the police and the State are not in unison" and that "the JCF stands ready to accept fully the responsibility of its action".

He added that the force has been implementing some of the recommenda-tions of the enquiry, including the use of body cameras and training in human and constitutional rights.

Before the Montague-Quallo meeting, Dr Horace Chang, another Cabinet minister, had said the JCF's review report was "not good" and would not be accepted by the administration.

Five cops - Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham, Superintendent Everton Tabannah, Inspector Mario Pratt, Sergeant Steve Waugh and Assistant Commissioner Winchroy Budhoo, who died last May - were named in last year's West Kingston Commission of Enquiry report as people who should not lead or participate in internal security operations after the commissioners accepted they may have been derelict in their duties.

... Named cops no longer leading operations - Quallo

The nine-member Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) administrative review committee, which was chaired by Assistant Commissioner Wray Palmer and included former Director of Public Prosecutions Kent Pantry, said there was no evidence of wrongdoing and accused the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry's commissioners of being biased, confused and engaging in speculation.

Police Commis-sioner George Quallo said Saturday night that the police personnel named by the commission "are no longer working in operational roles".

While Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham recently took up leadership of Area One, which includes the crime-torn parishes of St James and Westmoreland, Quallo said that that position does not include operational duties.

Last Friday, the JCF head said he was sending the administrative review report to the Gordon Shirley-chaired Police Service Commission to look into whether police personnel were derelict in their duties during the 2010 Tivoli operation.

The public defender, the Independent Commission of Investigations, and leading human-rights group Jamaicans for Justice want the review report withdrawn and have condemned the JCF for questioning the integrity of the independent enquiry into the operation to arrest gangster Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

There is still no word from the Jamaica Defence Force on what it has done internally since 2010 and last year's release of the enquiry report. That report stated that at least 69 people were killed and at least 20 were murdered by the security forces.

Major Sheldon Bryan, of the JDF, last Thursday acknowledged questions from The Gleaner, saying, "We will respond to you at the earliest opportunity."

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com