LETTER OF THE DAY - Commission of enquiry for police corruption needed
In order for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to win back the trust and confidence of the citizenry, the Bruce Golding administration should appoint a commission of enquiry into police corruption. Two of the goals of the commission should be to recommend measures to prevent recurrence of abuses and to consider an old question: Can the JCF police itself?
There are too many allegations that have gone on for too many years! In fact, it has been a critical contribution to the rising tide of criminal activities in Jamaica. Public confidence is low and the lack of confidence in the police is being expressed more often. Without external, independent oversight, the public will not trust the police. There needs to be some way of reassuring the public that they can turn to the police when they are victims of crime.
The vast majority of law enforcement officers in this country perform their very difficult jobs with respect for their communities and in compliance with the law. Even so, there are incidents in which this is not the case. How can you stop crime if those leading the charge are themselves involved in criminal activities?
Central to the success of the commission will be its power to obtain all information necessary, including the authority to compel testimony under legal sanction and test evidence. It is crucial to determine and identify corrupt members of the JCF and set in train the processes to bring them to justice and so clean up the force.
The commission also must dig deep to find the full truth. I have seen what has happened before in enquiries - we don't find the full truth. We prosecute those at the bottom of the chain of command, but we don't find out what those above did. No one must be spared, not even those at the top.
More focus on integrity
Finally, the Government and the head of the police force ought to, by all means, put more emphasis on corruption control at the selection and training phase of policing. This would include greater focus on each applicant's integrity in the recruitment phase (background check, integrity test and polygraph test), as well as providing more anti-corruption and ethics training at the police academy.
Restoring integrity and trust is of vital importance in improving the image of the JCF. The commission of enquiry will help to ensure these goals are met.
I am, etc.,