JDF not afraid of INDECOM
Major General Antony Anderson, former head of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), has endorsed the work of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), but has argued that the oversight body needs to work on bettering its relationship with the security forces.
In one of his final public presentations before being replaced by Major General Rocky Meade, Anderson argued that the public seems to have some confidence in having a separate and independent body look at security action.
"I think, however, they (INDECOM) would be enhanced if it also seeks the confidence of the people it is overseeing," said Anderson at a recent public lecture on crime.
"I think that if we do both, then we have the platform to remarkably increase the effectiveness of INDECOM and also of our security services. The people they oversee must feel, must have the perception of being fairly dealt with. They are also citizens," added Anderson, who is Jamaica's National Security Adviser in the Officer of the Prime Minister - a recently created post.
INDECOM took over the operations of the Police Public Complaints Authority on August 16, 2010, and is responsible for investigating complaints against members of the security forces and the correctional services.
Its establishment has spurred mixed reactions from members of the public, some of whom believe gunmen are being given free rein because of the relentlessness of the oversight body against members of the security forces.
Abuse of powers
While the JDF employs what Anderson described as "culture of not complaining", several members of the JCF, including senior officers, have lambasted INDECOM over the years, claiming abuse of powers.
Some members of the police force have reportedly declined to intervene in criminal acts due to fears of being arrested and charged by INDECOM.
"The only problem I have is how they go about it. Is like they charge you and then they investigate, and there are several cases where that has happened," bemoaned a police inspector, in a recent interview with The Sunday Gleaner.
"I have been to court with members and it is obvious that it was an ongoing investigation. They have nothing and they arrest you and have you in lock-up while they do the investigation. Our concern is that if it was a civilian, that could not have happened," argued the inspector who asked not to be named.
99 fatal shootings
Recently, Denyelle Anderson, public relations officer at INDECOM, reported that there were 99 fatal shootings by security forces since the start of the year. Of that number, 94 were at the hands of the JCF, while only four were reported as being carried out by members of the JDF.
Anderson noted that at least 14 policemen have been charged by INDECOM since January while no member of the JDF has been charged.
"We have been working on forging better relationships with members of the police force. Our assistant commissioner and director of complaints have regular meetings with both the members of the Bureau of Special Investigations and the inspectorate," said Anderson.
"Additionally, we have awareness sessions that we do each month, and we have discussions with all security services, with not just the police but the JDF and the director of corrections as well," added Anderson.
She explained, however, that there was more contact between the public and the police than with the military, which may account for the low number of complaints against members of the JDF.