Letter of the Day | Reject smear campaign against INDECOM
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is disturbed by the ongoing public campaign to discredit the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). We are alarmed that some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) could inflame legitimate public concern over crime by illegitimately claiming that INDECOM is hindering lawful policing simply by doing its job.
The dangerous argument that crime fighting and police accountability are incompatible must be rejected by all Jamaicans. An unaccountable police force can never be a solution to crime - it only enables lawlessness.
INDECOM was established to investigate actions of the security forces that result in death or injury, sexual assault, assault and battery, damage to property or any other abuse of rights. Its value has been affirmed by successive governments, but continues to be resisted by some members of the police force. These members, through their sustained smear campaign, seem to suggest that Jamaica should reverse its important human-rights gains, because they, who wield the power to take life, dislike being investigated.
The recurring sentiment that officers cannot do their jobs if their actions are to be investigated reveals the urgent need for a paradigm shift in the culture of policing. It also disrespects the hundreds of law-abiding police officers who recognise that accountability must be part of any modern police force.
NO NEED TO FEAR
In an article published in The Sunday Gleaner on October 23, titled 'Cops run from gunmen to avoid INDECOM', an unidentified senior inspector claimed that members of the JCF resisted performing their duties in order to avoid being investigated by INDECOM in the event that they fatally shot someone. If, in fact, officers were executing their duties responsibly, they would not need to fear investigation. Dozens of INDECOM investigations have cleared police officers of wrongdoing. A basic reading of INDECOM's quarterly and annual reports details these, but sections of the public - including some in government - have resisted to accept what they can easily verify.
Our police force requires significant assistance to perform their duties, and JFJ fully supports efforts to address the legitimate concerns raised by officers such as the difficulty of working conditions, the limited resource availability, low access to modern technology and adequate legal representation. Of the many areas that need urgent reform, the presence of a modern oversight body is not one.