INDECOM too quick to charge – se­nior cop

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ryon Jones Sun­day Gleaner Re­porter ryon.jones@glean­

ONE SE­NIOR in­spec­tor of po­lice is among sev­eral mem­bers of the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) ac­cus­ing the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM) of ar­rest­ing and charg­ing po­lice per­son­nel be­fore con­duct­ing a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

INDECOM took over from the Po­lice Pub­lic Com­plaints Au­thor­ity on Au­gust 16, 2010, and is re­spon­si­ble for un­der­tak­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­cern­ing ac­tions by mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces and other agents of the state that re­sult in death or in­jury to per­sons, or the abuse of the rights of per­sons; and for con­nected mat­ters.

But some mem­bers of the JCF are con­tend­ing that INDECOM is abus­ing its power by tak­ing po­lice per­son­nel off front-line duty and drag­ging them be­fore the courts be­fore a proper case has been built.

“I have no prob­lem with a body such as INDECOM. The only prob­lem I have is how they go about it. Is like they charge you and then they in­ves­ti­gate, and there are sev­eral cases where that has hap­pened,” charged the po­lice in­spec­tor, who has served two decades in the force.

“I have been to court with mem­bers and it is ob­vi­ous that it was an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They have noth­ing and they ar­rest you and have you in lockup while they do the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Our con­cern is that if it was a civil­ian, that could not have hap­pened.”


One con­sta­ble cur­rently fac­ing a mur­der charge shares the view of his se­nior coun­ter­part, as while he said he felt his ac­tions were jus­ti­fied and he had noth­ing to fear, what wor­ries him is the way in which INDECOM is go­ing about in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter.

“It is where they are ar­rest­ing and in­ves­ti­gat­ing, and while they are in­vest­ing, they are tweak­ing things to suit them,” the con­sta­ble ac­cused.

But com­mis­sioner of INDECOM, Ter­rence Wil­liams, is rub­bish­ing the claims of the of­fi­cers, as he pointed out that the act which gov­erns the com­mis­sion’s op­er­a­tions does not al­low for charges to be laid with­out the proper in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing car­ried out.

“The INDECOM Act op­er­ates in a way that be­fore any­body can be charged, it must come through the di­rec­tor of com­plaints and then be seen by me, the com­mis­sioner,” Wil­liams told The Sun­day Gleaner.

“The de­sign of the INDECOM Act is to en­sure that all in­ves­ti­ga­tions are su­per­vised by some­body with se­nior le­gal qual­i­fi­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence. So the com­plaint that is be­ing made is com­pletely off the mark, based on sys­tems. Fur­ther, it is not our prac­tice to charge per­sons be­fore the case is com­pleted.”

Wil­liams also high­lighted that the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) is given no­ti­fi­ca­tion of ev­ery case to be brought against a mem­ber of the force.

“Of the six cases that have been com­pleted, only one per­son was ac­quit­ted, and there is one where the DPP felt the case should not go on. We have five cases where there have been con­vic­tions, in­clud­ing one case with eight peo­ple,” Wil­liams said.

The com­mis­sioner fur­ther ex­plained that most of the ad­journ­ments that hap­pened in court re­gard­ing cases put for­ward by INDECOM were due to the de­fence not be­ing ready or the court be­ing taken up with other mat­ters.

“It is not a case of INDECOM cases be­ing ad­journed be­cause the file is not ready,” Wil­liams said. “If the state has an in­ter­est that jus­tice be done, the state must have an in­ter­est to en­sure that the cases are tried quickly, which is why the state must in­vest.”

One sergeant be­lieves, how­ever, that many of the cases in­volv­ing cops could be han­dled in the coroner’s court, as they do not war­rant charges be­ing laid.

“The coroner’s court is avail­able to ques­tion these things that are vaguely charge­able for mur­der,” the sergeant said. “Why go so dras­tic in the first place? It is as if they [INDECOM] have a vendetta. They just skip the coroner’s court and go straight to a mur­der charge, and it is not a case where they can say it is bla­tant in­dis­cre­tion; there is noth­ing to sug­gest that. These cases could eas­ily be thrashed out with the mem­ber still be­ing at work, but they just quick to charge be­cause it suits their agenda.”

“Some mem­bers of the JCF are con­tend­ing that INDECOM is abus­ing their power by tak­ing po­lice per­son­nel off front­line duty and drag­ging them be­fore the courts be­fore a proper case has been built. ”

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