Sat | Oct 1, 2022

Senior cops contradict commish on Graham - Officers say area commander will have input in operational activities

Published:Wednesday | August 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater & Jovan Johnson
Donovan Graham
Police Commissioner George Quallo
Harrison Henry

There are reports out of western Jamaica that senior police personnel are contradicting Commissioner George Quallo's declaration that Area One Commander Donovan Graham will not be involved in operations.

Graham, an assistant commissioner of police, was one of five cops that the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry recommended be barred from participating in or leading future internal operations over credible allegations of wrongdoing in the 2010 Tivoli operation.

Quallo, in a force statement on Saturday, said that area commanders "coordinate" police services and that divisional commanders "in their management function, are the responsible, accountable officer for operational tasks".

But several senior police personnel from western Jamaica, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that their understanding was different from what their boss explained.

"As the Area One commander, the operations officers in the four parishes have to report to him, so, technically, he is the head of operations in the region," an officer said.

"If the recommendations of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry are to be followed, it would rule him out of the planning and execution of operations."


'Quietly withdraw Graham'


Area One is made up of Hanover, St James, Trelawny, and Westmoreland - parishes that have seen a flare-up of violence and have helped contributed to the 21 per cent hike in murder so far this year.

Another senior officer said that the issue had to be addressed with the zones of special operations law, likely to be implemented soon.

"Any Tivoli-like scenario would see the Jamaicans for Justice and INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations) taking the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) and the Government to the cleaners," the lawman said.

"In the best interest of the JCF, the best option at this time is to quietly withdraw Mr Graham."

Initially, it appeared that Graham would not have had any issues when Quallo accepted the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) administrative review, which exonerated Graham and the four others named in the report of the events seven years ago that left at least 69 dead.

However, Quallo shifted his position after meeting with National Security Minister Robert Montague on Saturday. He has also sent the JCF review to the Police Service Commission to consider any dereliction of duty involving cops.

... Quallo's explanation not logical, reasonable - Harrison Henry

When news broke that Area One Commander Donovan Graham was to take over the leadership of the area, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry expressed alarm, saying that Commissioner of Police George Quallo was going against the recommendation of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry. It wanted Graham and four other cops banned from participating in or leading future internal operations.

Yesterday, Harrison Henry dismissed Quallo's explanation that the cops, especially Graham, were "no longer working in operational roles".

"That sort of technical attempt at making a distinction is a distinction without a difference," she said. "That just does not appear to be logical or reasonable."

Added the public defender: "Divisional officers have operational responsibilities, and we know that, but they are also required to report to Graham, who would be the top cop for the area.

"We know that part of the police deliverables, as Commissioner Quallo refers to, includes operations, and, therefore, as the senior area officer, he (Graham) would have direct responsibility for deciding, for instance, in which area we need to carry out an operation," she said.

The other four cops are Superintendent Everton Tabannah, Inspector Mario Pratt, Sergeant Steve Waugh, and ACP Winchroy Budhoo. Budhoo died earlier this year.

The day before Quallo changed his position, the JCF issued a statement saying that the Police Officers' Association and the Jamaica Police Federation were supporting him. Those bodies have remained silent.

Western Jamaica is currently seen as the epicentre of violent crimes in Jamaica.

More than 940 murders have been reported so far this year. Of that number, at least 300 have been collectively in St James (186), Westmoreland (89), and Hanover (44).