Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Letter of the Day| United front by JCF, INDECOM critical

Published:Thursday | December 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM


We cannot deny that police brutality does exist. Some police officers abuse their authority and pose a threat to the safety of our people. This is my reason to wholeheartedly support the concept of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) does need a regulatory body to filter out these rogue and ruthless police officers. Both organisations have a core purpose of protecting the rights of Jamaicans. Instead of a united front to fulfil that purpose, what we see is continued senseless squabble between the JCF and INDECOM, meanwhile, our country becomes a murderous bloodbath.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness spoke in defence of the JCF, admitting interference of INDECOM with police executing their duties. Subsequently, an article in the Gleaner, including response of Terrence Williams, Commissioner of INDECOM provided some very disturbing statistics. The article stated that, in the first three quarters of 2017, it completed 697 cases and in 649 of them it recommended no criminal charge or disciplinary action be taken. It says it recommended criminal charges in only 12 cases and disciplinary action in 20.

Foremost, the numbers provided by INDECOM do not add up. The Organisation reports a total of 697 cases completed yet the cases recommended totalled 32 cases for disciplinary and criminal action. This leaves 16 cases unaccounted for. Furthermore, during the aforementioned period 93 per cent of cases investigated by INDECOM credited no action. Is that not grounds to consider harassment of our police force, proving over zealousness, eagerness to investigate possibly without rationale? These statistics provided by INDECOM are indeed proof that police officers have valid reason to be afraid of doing their jobs and our skyrocketing crime rates are partially the result of same.

Deputy Commissioner of JCF, Glenmore Hinds, in an article published October 26, 2016 in the Gleaner stated that, "The major issue we have is with the Commissioner of INDECOM ... agreements are made and arrived at but they must be signed off by the Commissioner and quite often those are flipped they can't come to any agreement that is going to bind INDECOM unless he (Williams) agrees to it." Hinds admits a "good" relationship with INDECOM.

This issue is not about political mandate but the operation and effectiveness of an Organisation that police officers believe to pose a hindrance.

The JCF certainly does not offer the most attractive work compensations.


Lives on the line


Police officers are merely men and women as ourselves who have bravely taken on the responsibility of protecting our citizens. So too, we must protect those police officers who serve with integrity. These are our brothers, sisters, neighbours, husbands, wives, children and they deserve to be protected.

As a Jamaican citizen, I am calling upon the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliamentto protect our police officers from harassment by INDECOM. By his own admission, as leader of INDECOM Terrence Williams has a current success rate of 7 per cent. He has failed. Utterly unacceptable, even if graded on a curve. A private sector leader would have long been dismissed. Let us not continue to waste taxpayers' money on overzealous investigations.

Elizabeth S.