INDECOM cost­ing cops

Po­lice per­son­nel un­able to re­cover le­gal funds when cleared of wrong­do­ing be­fore court

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Re­porter

DEPUTY COM­MIS­SIONER of Po­lice Novlette Grant says mem­bers of the po­lice force have raised con­cerns about per­sonal costs they in­cur when they ap­pear be­fore the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM) for a hear­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Grant, al­though INDECOM has as­sured the Po­lice High Com­mand that there is no need for the po­lice to take an at­tor­ney with them when they meet ini­tially with the over­sight body, the ex­pe­ri­ences of mem­bers of the force dic­tate that it would be “fool­hardy to go with­out le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion”. Grant told mem­bers of Par­lia­ment’s Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee (PAAC) yes­ter­day that the per­cep­tion that mem­bers of the force were un­will­ing to be sub­ject to over­sight was far from the truth. “The first process in the ac­count­abil­ity chain should not be costly,” Grant rea­soned. The se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer pointed out that the Gov­ern­ment as­sists mem­bers of the force who are charged by INDECOM with le­gal costs, not­ing that po­lice per­son­nel are not re­im­bursed un­til they are ac­quit­ted.

“When­ever a po­lice of­fi­cer is called upon to ac­count in a court of law, that po­lice of­fi­cer has to find the le­gal fees up front and then ask for re­im­burse­ment at the end of the process.”

How­ever, she made it clear that when po­lice per­son­nel ap­pear be­fore INDECOM for a hear­ing and take an at­tor­ney, there is no mech­a­nism in place for re­im­burse­ment at the pre­lim­i­nary stage.

“This is what the po­lice are say­ing, that this cost is so high on them that if they were to be cited to go be­fore a court, they would have al­ready been broke be­fore they ac­tu­ally have any­thing to an­swer in a court of law,” she added.

“These are some of the prac­ti­cal con­cerns of the mem­bers that make them wary

of try­ing to en­gage with peo­ple who are armed out there and who are, in fact, taunt­ing them with the idea that ‘you can’t do us any­thing be­cause there is INDECOM’.”

Grant said de­spite re­as­sur­ances and sup­port from the Po­lice High Com­mand, the rank-and-file mem­bers are of the view that they are the ones who have to face a “kind of trial”.

Mem­ber of the PAAC Juliet Hol­ness told her col­leagues that when­ever she in­ter­acts with rank-and-file mem­bers of the force, they di­vulge that “it is bet­ter to go to work and do noth­ing” than to face pos­si­ble sanc­tions from the over­sight body.

When head of INDECOM Ter­rence Wil­liams made a pre­sen­ta­tion to a joint se­lect com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment three years ago on the INDECOM Act, he ex­on­er­ated the is­land’s law­men in the ma­jor­ity of cases where the ac­tions of mem­bers of the force had been called into ques­tion.

At the time, Wil­liams said that in many of his in­ves­ti­ga­tions, he has found that the con­duct of the of­fi­cers was proper.

Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Novelette Grant. FILE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.