'Write or left' - Corrupt cops still shaking down motorists
The image of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is being further tarnished by some members who are using their positions to entice motorists to hand over money, drinks and other gifts.
Tales of police personnel stopping motorists only to indicate that they were begging some juice or other items have reached our newsroom, but head of the Corporate Communications Unit, Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, said this was the first she had been hearing about such practices by cops.
"I have not heard about it, and if persons happen to have this experience they need to report it to the police. That is the only way that something can be done about it," said Lindsay.
"The police are trained a particular way and any deviation from that, then my advice is that motorists write down their information and the vehicle information and make a report."
But several motorists told our news team they have not reported their encounters, with some indicating that they have no issues with the practice that have saved them from traffic tickets.
Winston Rattigan, a Kingston-based motorist, last week told The Sunday Gleaner of his experience after being stopped by the cops in the Corporate Area recently.
"This policeman stopped me and me tell him I don't have any insurance. Him look pon me and smile and ask me if I drink Red Bull. I said yes, and him seh, 'well, me drink Red Bull too'," said Rattigan.
What you can do for yourself?
He was convinced the policeman's statement was a request for a bribe and complied, giving the cop $1,000 before driving off with no traffic ticket, a smile and a nod.
Taxi operator Garfield Peart has had similar experiences. "Them (the police) ask what you can do for me? Or what you can do for yourself. One time them usually ask 'write or left'. Write mean him fi write the ticket and left means you a leave something with him," said Peart, who operates in downtown Kingston.
Accountant Zayous Hamilton recalled being stopped in the Corporate Area last month and asked by one policeman to step outside the vehicle.
"Me ask him what really a gwaan and he said 'well, nothing no really a gwaan but you know we on the thing (work) and you can leave a little drink with me,' and ... me lef a ting wid him," said Hamilton.
"That has been my experience on several occasions; just random stops, with absolutely no cause, and the very first thing the police ask is 'where you work?'
"Honestly, if a police stop me and say he is giving me a ticket I don't beg a bly because he is doing his work and I don't believe in it. I give the policeman the money and that is something I would do to any other man on the street.
"It is not to get away from a ticket," added Hamilton, as he charged that he has not been asked for his motor vehicle documents on any of the three occasions he has been stopped by the cops since January.
But head of Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, says any cop who acted in this manner would be breaking the rules as the JCF strictly prohibits any member from collecting bribes from motorists.
Allen further noted that the JCF policy outlines strict protocols for stopping motorists on the road.
"When a policeman stops you he is obligated, as per the JCF policy, to first identify himself ... and then he needs to outline what he is about, what it is he is stopping you for, and then he might issue further instructions," said Allen.