Wed | Dec 12, 2018

UPDATED: INDECOM clipped - Appeal Court rules body has no power to arrest cops

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force cannot be arrested by INDECOM.

The Appeal Court yesterday slapped a restraining order on the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), telling it in a decision that it has no power to arrest, and prosecute cops.

INDECOM has maintained that under Section 20 of the act, it had such powers, but the ruling said, based on Section 20 of the Act, that INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams and his investigators only had power to investigate and make recommendations.

READ IN FULL: Judgment - INDECOM vs Police

The two-to-one decision came as Deputy Superintendent Albert Dyer challenged his conviction for interfering with the work of INDECOM and sought a declaratory judgment on the role of the body set up in 2010 to investigate the police.

"The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is not empowered by Section 20 of the Act, statute, or common law to arrest, charge, or prosecute any person for any criminal offence; (ii) Section 20 of the Act does not empower the first respondent or any of his investigative staff to arrest, charge, or prosecute any person for any criminal offence or any of his investigative staff to arrest any person for a breach of that section ... ," read the Appeal Court's ruling.

INDECOM, essentially, has no more powers of arrest than a private citizen. "Subject to the restrictions that exist at common law, the Act does not abrogate the common-law right possessed by the first respondent and each member of his investigative staff, in their private capacities, to arrest or charge any person or initiate a private prosecution against any person for any criminal offence, and (vi) the first respondent and his investigate staff may exercise their private rights at common law without first obtaining a ruling from, or permission of, the director of public prosecutions."

Both INDECOM and the Police Federation have claimed victory based on the ruling.

Williams says that the judgment of the court has confirmed and strengthened the position of the oversight body. Williams argued that the police oversight body never claimed that INDECOM, as a body, had the power to bring a charge against the police.

The Police Federation has celebrated the ruling, saying that it welcomes the judgment as the Federation was the only voice against the body.

The court also quashed the conviction of Dyer.

He was arrested by INDECOM investigators following allegations that on August 29, 2013, police personnel from the St Catherine South Division fatally shot a woman in Windsor Heights, Central Village. Personnel from INDECOM reportedly went to the Central Village Police Station to secure the weapons involved.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Dyer took the weapons and refused to hand them over.

He was convicted in 2014 and fined $800, 000.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story had said the Appeal Court had told INDECOM that it has no power to investigate, arrest and prosecute cops. There was an inaccuracy in that statement. While in fact, the Appeal Court said INDECOM has no power to arrest and prosecute cops, it said INDECOM's remit was to investigate cops and make recommendations.