HAVING FAILED to convince Police Commissioner Owen Ellington that an overseas weapons consultant it had employed should be deemed a ballistics expert under the Firearms Act, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) wants the top cop to be stripped of the power to deem persons as ballistics experts.
INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams said that power should instead rest with the minister of national security.
He further submitted that if the Parliament is not minded to transfer the power to the minister, then it should give INDECOM the power to deem someone a ballistics expert.
Williams, who was making a presentation to the joint select committee reviewing the INDECOM Act, was brought back into line by a representative of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) after he misled the committee on the reasons Ellington gave for not deeming the overseas consultant as a ballistics expert.
"The commissioner of police took the view that our expert does not have sufficient policing experience and did not deem him so," Williams said.
"This is despite the fact that policing experience has nothing to do with ballistics expertise," Williams added, while stating that the consultant has an impressive résumé in the field.
Williams said the consultant is a past president of the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE), a major certifying body for ballistics experts, and is one of the testers of that organisation. He also said the expert served 15 years working in the crime lab of the police in Washington State.
"There is no ballistics expert in Jamaica who is currently certified by the AFTE, but yet for our expert, he was not given the nomination of ballistics expert under the law," Williams said.
But Senior Superintendent of Police Bertland O'Connor challenged Williams, saying Ellington did not advance a lack of policing experience as a reason for not designating the overseas consultant as a ballistics expert.
"The issue of not sufficient policing expertise was never considered. [It] was never mentioned. To the best of my knowledge, the commissioner had consultations with relevant stakeholders ... and made a decision simply that he was not convinced that this person is sufficiently qualified to be designated an expert," O'Connor said.