Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Careless with lock-ups - Senior cop wants more care in policing prisoners

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 1:00 AMCorey Robinson
Custos of Kingston Steadman Fuller touring the Kingston Central police lock-up.

Head of the Detention and Courts Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Superintendent Leon Clunis is urging divisional commanders not to sacrifice their ability to deal with inmates in their lock-ups in order to take the fight to criminals on the road.

Almost 90 prisoners escaped from police lock-ups between 2014 and 2016, with 38 still on the run, and Clunis is concerned that lack of morale among cops serving in lock-ups might be an issue.

"Divisional commanders need to understand that they need to put some of their best (cops to man the lock-ups) and let people understand that dealing with the inmates is part of policing," said Clunis.

According to Clunis, some members of the Force do not see working in the lock-ups as part of policing as they view it more as a dumping ground.

"So you have a person (policeman) giving problems, so you throw him around the holding area. That person is demotivated. He is there, basically, to cruise through his hours.

"You can't sacrifice the lock-ups for boots on the ground. Nothing is wrong with pulling persons out of administration and sending them on the road when there is a need. But it can't be that you don't have the capacity to deal with the criminals and hoodlums that you are going to bring in," added Clunis.

 

Overseeing the operation

 

The Detention and Courts Unit is responsible for overseeing the effective operation of all police lock-ups and court security services across the island.

But there have been concerns about the operation of the lock-ups since 2014 when 24 prisoners escaped. It was worse in 2015 as 44 person managed to flee the lock-ups. Last year, 18 persons escaped from the jails.

So far this year, two men have escaped police custody, but they managed to slip away from the cops while being treated at hospitals in St Mary and the Corporate Area.

One of those who escaped from the police this year was 25-year-old Dwight Henry, who is charged with the murders of two United States missionaries in May 2016.

Henry escaped from the Annotto Bay Hospital on Wednesday, January 4, after he was taken there for medical attention.

He was recaptured last week by members of the Area 2 Fugitive Apprehension Team and Area 2 Narcotics Team, who were conducting a sting operation on the Agualta Vale main road.

The cops instructed the driver of a motor vehicle to stop, and during a search of the vehicle, Henry was found and taken back into custody.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com