Sun | Jan 21, 2018

INDECOM boss is the problem, deputy police commissioner tells Parliament

Published:Wednesday | October 26, 2016 | 4:43 PM
INDECOM commissioner Terrence Williams

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Glenmore Hinds says while members of the force have a good relationship with the staff of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the problem is with Terrence Williams, the head of the oversight body.

Hinds, who appeared before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament this afternoon, said the police force has an issue with how Williams carries out his job.

The deputy commissioner was quizzed about the relationship between INDECOM and the JCF by committee members who also wanted to know whether the proposed signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between both bodies, in less than a week, would address operational concerns by both sides.

IN PHOTO: Glenmore Hinds

"I was deliberate in using the word good, because the relationship between INDECOM and JCF officers is by and large good," Hinds told committee members.

However, he said it was not the same with Williams and cops.

"The major issue we have is with the Commissioner of INDECOM. I must make this distinction because there is a regular scheduled meeting between the heads of both departments; agreements are made and arrived at but they must be signed off by the Commissioner of INDECOM 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 said.

Hinds also said the problem was not with the legislation governing INDECOM but stressed that it is how "some persons" in INDECOM, more so the commissioner, applies his remit.

IN PHOTO: Fitz Jackson

Committee member Fitz Jackson said he appreciated Hines’ forthright remarks, adding that INDECOM reports to the Parliament and as such the PAAC, in its full report to the House of Representatives should propose an intervention strategy to address the senior cop’s concern.

"None of us are God unto ourselves," Jackson said noting that the INDECOM Commissioner has to be accountable to the Jamaican Parliament.

The INDECOM/JCF debate gained momentum in the committee’s deliberations after Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural Juliet Holness told her colleagues that whenever she interacts with rank and file members of the force they divulge that it is better to go to work and do nothing than to face possible sanctions from the oversight body.

IN PHOTO: Juliet Holness

She noted that although members of the JCF have been assured that funding is available to provide legal representation for them when they are charged by INDECOM, the rank and file members are not satisfied that this is sufficient.

"When you speak to officers they tell you: They don’t give a darn what we are saying to them and what an MOU says because at the end of the day 'my pay is what will be affected. I am the one who will have to sit down at home until this is resolved and possibly I will have to find additional money to pay an attorney, so it is safer for me to collect my pay and shut up my mouth and don’t stick my neck out if I see anything going wrong and go to my home because of INDECOM'."

IN PHOTO: Terrence Williams

She said INDECOM is valuable in providing oversight and therefore it is needful for to strike a practical balance so that police personnel feel that they can carry out their duties safely once they are upholding the law.

Committee chairman Wykeham McNeill cautioned that if the problems between both parties are not resolved the country could see rising crime rates.