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Cops want politicians to review INDECOM

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Nagra Plunkett, Assignment Coordinator

WESTERN BUREAU:Former chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation, Constable Franz Morrison, has suggested that Minister of National Security Peter Bunting and his opposition counterpart, Delroy Chuck, should collaborate on the planned review of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Act.

The Federation has been at odds with INDECOM and its commissioner, Terrence Williams, for some time, particularly over its power to arrest and charge agents of the State and its demand that police personnel involved in incidents provide it with statements.

But Morrison last week argued that the cops do not have a fundamental problem with INDECOM.

"We want to say that we don't have any fight with INDECOM. There was what we thought was a breach and we highlighted it, and if it happens again, we will be there to highlight it and to make the appropriate calls," Morrison said during the federation's annual conference held in Trelawny last week.

"We expect that both the minister and opposition spokesperson on national security will collaborate to represent the views of the police as to where we think that act needs to go, so that the reforms will go in that way."

powers questioned

INDECOM's powers were challenged last year after its investi-gators arrested and charged police corporal Malica Reid in connection with the shooting death of Negril businessman Frederick 'Mickey' Hill.

The original indictment was subsequently withdrawn by the director of public prosecutions which intervened and submitted a new charge.

Bunting used the federation's annual conference to reiterate his commitment to undertake a review of the INDECOM Act, which he termed "a rushed piece of legislation".

According to Bunting, he wants to work out protocols as to how INDECOM will operate to achieve minimum friction and unnecessary conflict with members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force.

"The challenge is not whether or not to have an INDECOM; the challenge is to have a legislation that is clear with no ambiguities that gives INDECOM adequate powers but not excessive powers," said Bunting.

"So as quickly as possible, we are going to have to review and do whatever amendments are necessary to make that relationship work," stated Bunting.

He argued that while there is an inherent tension in the relationship between any INDECOM-type agency and the police force, if they operate properly, they will contribute to the long-term professionalism of the force.

INDECOM was established by the Bruce Golding-led administration in 2010 to investigate fatal shootings and reports of abuse and human-rights violations by agents of the State.

The Constitutional Court has dismissed a motion brought by eight policemen who were seeking declarations that INDECOM did not have the power to compel them to give statements.

But in handing down its unanimous decision, the court recommended that the law should be changed to specifically state that any information garnered by INDECOM would not be used in criminal proceedings.

The court also said the law should be amended for INDECOM to inform people being investigated of their right to judicial review.