Cops run from gun­men to avoid INDECOM

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ryon Jones Staff Re­porter ryon.jones@glean­erjm.com

SOME MEM­BERS of the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) told The Sun­day Gleaner that they de­lib­er­ately avoid con­fronta­tions with gun­men out of fear that if it re­sults in a fatal shoot­ing, they could be­come a tar­get of the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM).

One se­nior in­spec­tor of po­lice re­vealed that sev­eral mem­bers of the force were em­ploy­ing delay tac­tics when de­ployed to lo­ca­tions where there were ac­tive shoot­ers.

“Some­times a shoot­ing takes place and they send out po­lice to re­spond to the shoot­ing, and they take a long route or they drive slow, be­cause their thing is to wait un­til the gun­men are gone,” the in­spec­tor di­vulged. “Even when some of­fi­cers go to MoBay [Mon­tego Bay], they don’t get in­volved in fatal shoot­ings be­cause of the whole scru­tiny.”

He con­tin­ued: “I work on a team where peo­ple are straight front line, and now you can see the ap­pre­hen­sion and ten­ta­tive­ness in of­fi­cers to carry out cer­tain du­ties, be­cause the first thing they think about is INDECOM.”

INDECOM in­ves­ti­gates 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. Since its in­cep­tion in 2010, more than 100 mem­bers of the JCF have been charged. Of the six cases that have been com­pleted, five have re­sulted in con­vic­tions (in­clud­ing one case with eight per­sons), while one per­son has been ac­quit­ted.

AVOID­ING CON­FRONTA­TIONS

Ac­cord­ing to a cor­po­ral, who has been a mem­ber of the JCF for over two decades, some of his col­leagues are so fear­ful of suf­fer­ing a sim­i­lar fate that they sim­ply aim to com­plete their daily shifts with­out en­gag­ing in any per­ilous work.

“If you are sched­uled for an eight- or 12-hour shift and you know of some­thing that could bear fruit – a gun find, drugs or some­thing that could put a dent in crime – be­cause of what is be­ing por­trayed and the neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence other mem­bers would have had with INDECOM, it re­ally serves as a de­ter­rent,” the cor­po­ral said.

“There are of­fi­cers out there who have the knowhow in re­la­tion to catch­ing these guys (crim­i­nals), and putting them be­fore the courts, but the method and how these guys (INDECOM) re­act dic­tate a lot. There are per­sons who just want to come and do an eighthour and go home; per­sons could even walk past them with a firearm. That’s the harsh re­al­ity.”

The cor­po­ral, who was found not guilty of a mur­der charge prior to the es­tab­lish­ment of INDECOM, be­lieves the only way for the po­lice to ar­rest the coun­try’s crime prob­lem is for the law­men to go above and be­yond the call of duty and think like the crim­i­nals, as that could make the dif­fer­ence between life and death.

“You need to be dif­fer­ent, be in­tu­itive, think like how these guys think, be­cause that’s the only way you will be equal are above them (crim­i­nals),” the cor­po­ral said. “But if there is any huge disparity as it re­lates to their way of think­ing and you, as a cop on the ground, you might find your­self in­jured or, worse, dead.”

He added, “I re­cov­ered a firearm re­cently, and even though my life was at great risk, they (INDECOM) found them­selves in­side my head space and this served as a de­ter­rent, not only to do­ing the job, but a hin­drance to sur­vival.”

INDECOM NOT TO BLAME

INDECOM Com­mis­sioner Ter­rence Wil­liams has de­scribed it as “sad” that mem­bers of the JCF are still con­tend­ing that the work of the over­sight body is ham­per­ing them from car­ry­ing out their job.

“The sad thing is that peo­ple can con­tinue to make that sug­ges­tion, and it is sad for the JCF, be­cause those who make it seem to be say­ing that we can­not work in a frame­work that we are ac­count­able,” Wil­liams said.

“Six years ago, when there was no INDECOM, did the po­lice have crime un­der very good con­trol then? There was al­ways in­creas­ing crime since the early ’70s.”

Wil­liams fur­ther ar­gued that if mem­bers of the force were not car­ry­ing out their du­ties, INDECOM was not to be blamed, but it was in­stead up to their su­pe­ri­ors to en­sure that they do their job.

“The an­swer is not to say let them have no ac­count­abil­ity when it comes to hu­man rights. The truth is, there are many of­fi­cers who are used to the old ways when they could do things and not be called to ques­tion about those things,” Wil­liams said. “But those of­fi­cers have to re­alise, through their lead­er­ship, that that is yes­ter­day. The po­lice of to­day must be ac­count­able, and be­ing ac­count­able does not mean you can’t do your work. If so, you are not cut out for that job.”

“Some­times a shoot­ing takes place and they send out po­lice to re­spond to the shoot­ing, and they take a long route or they drive slow, be­cause their thing is to wait un­til the gun­men are gone. ”

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