Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Letter of the Day

Published:Tuesday | October 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

This is an open letter to Carl Williams, commissioner of police for Jamaica.


I listened with much interest to newscasts on the two local television stations on October 22, 2014, where it was reported that police personnel from the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) were masked during an operation that was carried out against Oneil Martin in the Greenwich Town community.

It was further reported that an officer in charge stated that it was imperative for some of the OCID personnel to have been masked.

I was dumbfounded to learn of this questionable action by the police and felt compelled to express the reasons why this practice is wrong and should cease with immediate effect.

First of all, police personnel should not wear masks because when there is police brutality and other unlawful action, the victim(s) would have a problem identifying the offending officer(s).

Second, it is classic deductive logic that when masked officers know their identities are concealed, they are less inhibited about abusing the rights of citizens or carrying out misconduct.

These abuses and misconduct include, but are not limited to, illegal access, search and seizures; physically abusing suspects; discrimination; endangering the lives of the suspect, his relatives and bystanders; planting, destroying or otherwise tampering with evidence that could vindicate a suspect; and derogating from the appropriate protocols and regulations.

Furthermore, when some of the unscrupulous, corrupt and unprofessional personnel from OCID and other agencies of the Jamaica Constabulary Force are masked, there are often brutal dictatorships. In fact, they are at a greater advantage to abuse the rights of civilians in the various ways I described above because there is no inhibition or immediate supervision, thus, police brutality becomes a feature.

Police personnel who conduct operations against civilians and are armed with guns and badges and who are acting under the colour of official authority must show their faces clearly and identify themselves at all times.

Any operation carried out by cops who, under colour of official authority, mask themselves, shall be deemed unethical, illegal, morally unacceptable and should draw condemnation from society.


Police personnel must observe that due process is a fundamental human right that is set in stone. As such, ex-convicts, suspects and the innocent all have entitlements thereto, and the police can, under no circumstance, turn a blind eye to respecting the due process afforded to all citizens.

It is highly questionable that personnel from OCID were reportedly on an intelligence-led operation in Greenwich Town when they took Oneil Martin into custody, but it was necessary for them to have worn masks.

Is that the new procedure for the police who are carrying out operations to access and search the premises and restrain a citizen without identifying themselves? If those officers were masked and, God forbid, there was abuse, injury or death, how could the victim (in the event of abuse or injury) or civilian witnesses (in the event of death) identify which cops carried out the illegal and criminal acts?

I am urging Commissioner Carl Williams to cease this practice among members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and continue on the path of mandatory disclosure of identity by supplying their full names, regulation numbers, ranks and their faces when requested and by courtesy.