Sun | Jan 20, 2019

INDECOM boss defends body - Dismisses claims it has reduced police effectiveness

Published:Saturday | January 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

Commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Terrence Williams has given his strongest defence yet of the police oversight body, dismissing claims in the public domain suggesting that it has reduced police effectiveness resulting in an increase in crime.

Using what he described as purely objective statistics, Williams, addressing a meeting of the Spanish Town Kiwanis club Thursday night said, "The claims are unfounded and illogical, yet the effort to convince by repetition continues relentlessly."

"I am sure you have often heard the claim that INDECOM has reduced police effectiveness causing an increase in crime, some even say the first step to reduce crime is to end INDECOM," Williams stated.

"Of course, there are some who may argue that the police must have a free hand and advocate that our national problems will be resolved if the police can act free of regulations and oversight."

According to Williams, "Those who peddle these arguments are faced with the question of whether the police cannot be accountable for their actions."

The INDECOM boss compared Jamaica's murder rate before the formation of the entity and after, showing a general decline since it started full operation in April 2011.

"The average annual murder rate for 2004 to 2010 was 1,554 per year, while from 2011 to 2017 it was 1,226 thus there was an average of 300 less murder victims since the introduction of INDECOM," Williams revealed.

Williams said, "The average murders per 100,000 for the pre-INDECOM period was 57.90 compared to 45.86 during the INDECOM period."


Fewer cops killed


"Similarly, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) statistics revealed that the number of police officers killed has significantly declined since the inauguration of INDECOM," he pointed out, adding that the search for causes and solutions for our endemic crime problem must be sought elsewhere.

He debunked what he said was another argument that the police were less responsive to criminal activities because of INDECOM, arguing that only a small percentage of investigations of officers ended up in criminal charges. He said that of the 165 police related killings last year, no firearms were recovered in 40 per cent of them.

"A disciplined police forced cannot operate contrary to law and in a state where some of its members are in continuous disaffection. Resisting and scapegoating the oversight mechanisms will only delay the needed change and distract from the real causes of crime," Williams said.