Fri | Apr 28, 2017

People's Report: Half-Way Tree police a law unto themselves

Published:Saturday | May 30, 2015 | 5:00 AM
Commissioner of Police Carl Williams
Kent Gammon
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This is an open letter to the commissioner of police, Dr Carl Williams.

Re: (1) The functioning of the Half-Way-Tree Police Station on Saturday, May 23, 2015; (2) attorneys-at-law required to produce identification cards from the General Legal Council.

I wish to share my experience with your constables on Saturday, May 23 at approximately 4 p.m. at the Half-Way Tree Police Station.

 

(A) Facts

 

(1) That day, I was called early in the afternoon by a concerned citizen with respect to the taking into custody of Glenroy Ricardo Walker on Friday, May 22, along Anderson Road in Woodford Park in St Andrew by Jamaica Constabulary Force constables. I was told he was being held at the Half-Way Tree Police Station.

(2) I was asked to attend upon the Half-Way Tree Police Station to ascertain: (i) whether Mr Walker was actually in custody there and (ii) what he was being charged for.

(3) On arriving at the Half-Way Tree Police Station, I parked by the holding area to the back of the said station. I went to the two plain-clothes persons seated at the desk and introduced myself. No one seated introduced themselves as would be common courtesy.

(4) I was asked by the two seated persons to show identification. I told them I didn't have any identification from the General Legal Council (GLC) to identify myself as an attorney-at-law. I was told by the man and the woman that I had to produce an identification card.

(5) I stated that lawyers didn't get IDs from the GLC and repeated that I didn't have any such ID. I proceeded to ask if they had in their custody one Glenroy Ricardo Walker.

(6) The two plain-clothes constables told me they didn't know that name and that I was to go to the front of the Half-Way Tree Police Station for more information. Another female corporal then sat on the bench by the female plain-clothes constable and in an unpleasant tone asked me my name. I gave my name again and she, too, asked me for identification.

(7) I repeated to her that I didn't have any identification from the General Legal Council to prove I was an attorney-at-law. She then told me I was not allowed in that area and I had to leave now.

(8) I then went to the front of the Half-Way Tree Police Station, whereupon I called back the concerned citizen who had called me earlier that afternoon about Mr Walker to ascertain if he had his information in fact correct. The concerned citizen gave me a telephone number for one Superintendent Bailey and told me that that was where Mr Walker had been taken into custody.

(9) After calling but not getting through to the number, Supt Bailey called me on my cellular within a very short period of time. I told him who I was, he had no clue who I was either, and after explaining all in paragraphs (1), (2) and (5) above, I asked him if he could help. He was quite unhelpful.

(10) I then proceeded to ask for the superintendent in charge of the station at the front desk and was told that that officer was not there.

(11) I was then directed to a sergeant seated in a room by the front desk and I again told him who I was and asked if he had Mr Walker in custody. He, too, asked me for identification and I had to repeat I didn't have any identification from the General Legal Council (GLC) to identify myself as an attorney-at-law.

(12) He then told me I had to check with the constables at the back of the Half-Way Tree Police Station to ascertain if Mr Walker was actually in their custody.

(13) Obviously getting nowhere with any constable at the station, I left having wasted approximately 30 minutes at the said station.

(14) On Tuesday, May 26, I then spoke to the concerned citizen who had called me earlier the afternoon on Saturday, May 23. He told me that Mr Walker had been released from custody that same day.

 

(B) Issues

 

(1) Are attorneys-at-law now required to produce identification cards at the Half-Way Tree Police Station, or any other police station, for that matter, when they attend upon police stations to see clients or potential clients.

(2) How is it that persons taken into custody at the Half-Way Tree Police Station are not recorded in your custody book so that attorneys-at-law can know if their clients and/or potential clients are in the custody of the State, i.e., a police station?

 

(C) Submissions

 

(1) Attorneys-at-law should not be told they have to leave any area of the police station unless they pose a threat to the safety of police constables and/or individuals in custody.

(2) Attorneys-at-law should not have to produce any identification cards from the General Legal Council to prove they are attorneys-at-law to any police constable when an attorney-at-law attends upon a police station seeking information about citizens who are in custody of the State/police stations and who are clients and/or potential clients of those attorneys-at-law.

 

(D) Closing Comments

 

(1) The breaching of constitutional rights of Jamaican citizens by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and their disrespectful behaviour towards attorneys-at-law will not only make your job and those of your constables extremely difficult, but will undermine trust and confidence in the whole administration of justice in Jamaica.

- Kent Gammon is an attorney-at-law and deputy opposition spokesman on justice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and kentgammon@gmail.com.

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