Re­ject smear cam­paign against INDECOM

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir:

JA­MAICANS FOR Jus­tice (JFJ) is dis­turbed by the on­go­ing public cam­paign to dis­credit the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM). We are alarmed that some mem­bers of the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) could in­flame le­git­i­mate public con­cern over crime by il­le­git­i­mately claim­ing that INDECOM is hin­der­ing law­ful polic­ing sim­ply by do­ing its job.

The dan­ger­ous ar­gu­ment that crime fight­ing and po­lice ac­count­abil­ity are in­com­pat­i­ble must be re­jected by all Ja­maicans. An un­ac­count­able po­lice force can never be a so­lu­tion to crime – it only en­ables law­less­ness.

INDECOM was es­tab­lished to in­ves­ti­gate ac­tions of the se­cu­rity forces that re­sult in death or in­jury, sex­ual as­sault, as­sault and bat­tery, dam­age to prop­erty, or any other abuse of rights. Its value has been af­firmed by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments but con­tin­ues to be re­sisted by some mem­bers of the po­lice force. These mem­bers, through their sus­tained smear cam­paign, seem to sug­gest that Ja­maica should re­verse its im­por­tant hu­man-rights gains be­cause they, who wield the power to take life, dis­like be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

The re­cur­ring sen­ti­ment that of­fi­cers can­not do their jobs if their ac­tions are to be in­ves­ti­gated re­veals the ur­gent need for a par­a­digm shift in the cul­ture of polic­ing. It also dis­re­spects the hun­dreds of law-abid­ing po­lice of­fi­cers who recog­nise that ac­count­abil­ity must be part of any modern po­lice force.

NO NEED TO FEAR

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in The Sun­day Gleaner on Oc­to­ber 23, ti­tled ‘Cops run from gun­men to avoid INDECOM’, an uniden­ti­fied se­nior in­spec­tor claimed that mem­bers of the JCF re­sisted per­form­ing their du­ties in or­der to avoid be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by INDECOM in the event that they fa­tally shot some­one. If, in fact, of­fi­cers were ex­e­cut­ing their du­ties re­spon­si­bly, they would not need to fear in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Dozens of INDECOM in­ves­ti­ga­tions have cleared po­lice of­fi­cers of wrong­do­ing. A ba­sic read­ing of INDECOM’s quar­terly and an­nual re­ports de­tails these, but sec­tions of the public – in­clud­ing some in Gov­ern­ment – have re­sisted ac­cept­ing what they can eas­ily ver­ify.

Our po­lice force re­quires sig­nif­i­cant as­sis­tance to per­form their du­ties, and JFJ fully sup­ports ef­forts to ad­dress the le­git­i­mate con­cerns raised by of­fi­cers such as the dif­fi­culty of work­ing con­di­tions, the lim­ited re­sources, low ac­cess to modern tech­nol­ogy, and ad­e­quate le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Of the many ar­eas that need ur­gent re­form, the pres­ence of a modern over­sight body is not one. JOHN CLARKE HO­RACE LEVY

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