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Our Jamaica

Corruption that chills

Published:Tuesday | June 15, 2021 | 7:54 AMA Digital Integration & Marketing production

Stories of cops falling victim to the long tentacles of corruption and even becoming the purveyors of that corruption aren’t new. But a cop becoming the symbol of violence by being found to be the head of a criminal organisation, a gang, is certainly novel. Unique, though it may be, it sends chills down the spine to think of the levels of corruption that exist within the force for this to exist. If indeed it does.

Published June 13, 2021

GANGSTER COP?

A POLICE constable believed to be a high-ranking member of a violent criminal gang is now in custody facing serious charges, police officials have disclosed.

His arrest, according to senior law-enforcement sources, is just the tip of the iceberg as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) ramps up efforts to weed out “dozens” of rogue cops from within its ranks.

The constable is assigned to the St Andrew South Police Division, the same area where the gang is based, according to law-enforcement sources.

“What I will say is that he is being held on reasonable suspicion of a case of conspiracy to murder and other charges,” Deputy Commissioner Fitz Bailey, who heads the crime and security portfolio, told The Sunday Gleaner on Friday.

The constable, dressed in full uniform, was relieved of his police-issued firearm and placed in handcuffs in full view of his stunned colleagues inside Hunts Bay Police Station last Tuesday, police sources revealed.

Three weeks before his arrest, the constable was removed from the special operations unit and assigned desk duties, according to one source.

Bailey declined to discuss the allegations against the constable, saying he will be interviewed by detectives and placed on an identification parade before a case file is submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) for a ruling.

Police investigators, too, were tight-lipped about the probe, but indicated that the gang has been linked to a string of violent incidents in at least two parishes.

“He [constable] is being looked at for being part of a syndicate that has been carrying out robberies within the Corporate Area and Clarendon,” said one investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak publicly about the probe.

The arrest is yet another black eye for a division overrun by criminal gangs and historically one of the most violent regions in the country as well as the JCF, which has seen, in recent years, a string of cops being convicted for criminal offences.

HOT POLICE DIVISION

In the last four years, close to 600 people have been reported murdered in communities that fall within the St Andrew South Police Division. A majority of the killings have been classified as gang-related.

Since the start of this year, 79 murders have been recorded across the division, a five per cent increase over the comparative period last year.

In December 2019, The Sunday Gleaner reported exclusively about a detective inspector of police, also assigned to the St Andrew South division, who was allowed to resign without facing criminal charges.

His resignation came months after he allegedly tipped off a gangster about a plan that was being devised by the Jamaican police, with assistance from United States, British and Canadian law enforcement authorities, to apprehend him.

According to multiple law-enforcement sources, he narrowly escaped a sting operation, set up with assistance from the gangster, to catch him in the act of collecting a $300,000 payment for his ‘help’.

The JCF explained at the time that it would “not put key national security assets at risk by prematurely laying charges against any person involved” while insisting that not everything in The Sunday Gleaner report “reflects the facts of the case”.

However, in a statement released hours after the December 2, 2019 report, the police noted that it expects to lay charges against the inspector at the completion of an investigation.

“The case is the subject of an ongoing high-level transnational investigation relating to several sensitive matters,” the statement said, noting that detectives were getting assistance from the ODPP.

NO UPDATE

Police spokeswoman Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay promised twice last week to provide an update on the investigation.

“I asked somebody to give me an update because I know he had resigned. I’m not sure what were the circumstances. I did not get any feedback so I still have to do some follow-up,” Lindsay said on Thursday.

Up to late yesterday, there was no update. Last month, the Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions of ex-police constable Jeffrey Peart and his sister, Roxanne Peart, for the gruesome 2012 killing of St Ann taxi operator Delroy Flame.

Flame, who was almost decapitated, was the main witness in a criminal case against then constable Peart. The ex-cop has been sentenced to life in prison and has been ordered to serve 33 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

Between January and March this year, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the agency that has oversight responsibility for the JCF, received 202 new complaints about members of the JCF, according to its first quarterly report.

The report indicated that in 145 cases, the reports were unsubstantiated.

“If you are not among the governing party members, then you sit on the opposition side. All independent members and opposition members sit apart from the governing side. It is generally accepted, and there is no need for any adjustment to the Standing Orders,” Chuck, the current minister of justice, said. 


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