Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Closing in on corrupt cops | Internal investigations body wants more teeth

Published:Friday | February 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson

Assistant Commissioner of Police Assan Thompson, who heads the branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) mandated to investigate internal disciplinary matters, wants more authority to move after corrupt cops.

Thompson last week argued that the Inspectorate of the Constabulary (IOC), which he leads, needs an anti-corruption arm to help bolster the integrity and the public perception of cops.

Addressing a stakeholders forum put on by the IOC last Wednesday, Thompson argued that while the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has overarching responsibility for investigating corrupt cops, there is need for internal checks done by his office.

According to Thompson, this would not only help to speed up investigations currently being carried out by the IOC but could also be useful in the vetting of new recruits entering the force.

"We have issues within the constabulary that would require us having our own little entity," said Thompson, as he argued that this entity would not interfere with MOCA investigations.

"When we speak about the Road Traffic Act and corruption, and any other form of corruption involving officers, we would like to have an agency to treat with it right away instead of waiting on MOCA, which may not see what we are seeing here," argued Thompson.

"It would not be difficult because it was here before; and in terms of the training of persons, people who understand, we are not short on that. It would also help with polygraph training and so on," added Thompson.

Formed in 2014, MOCA is an amalgamation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force and the Anti-Corruption Branch, which was initially under the IOC mandate.

MOCA operates independently of the JCF even though most of its members are drawn from the force.

But with the IOC still mandated to investigate allegations against cops, Thompson pulled together JCF stakeholders last Wednesday, including representatives of the Transport Division and the police Court of Enquiry, in an effort to iron out any challenges they face and to ensure that they are operating on similar terms.

"We want to have all the members on one page and for them to understand the strategic direction of the JCF, and for them to know what they should be doing," said Thompson.

He argued that too often the IOC is seen as the branch of the force that reprimands its members instead of aiding their development.

According to Thompson, the IOC will be paying more attention to transparency and accountability, especially from senior officers, this year.