The problem of corruption of one kind or another exists in Jamaica as it does in every other police department in every country across the globe in which humans are the police officers. It does not mean however that we should not continue the quest for a more perfect resolution to this vexing issue. As we seek to bring greater accountability, transparency, and fidelity to public institutions.
With that said, were we to give credence to the Jamaican naysayers who criticize the police one would walk away believing that the police department is so rotten that the only solution is to scrape it all up and put it in a garbage bin to be picked up for the Riverton dump.
Sure they want you to believe that the police is totally and completely corrupt. When they tell you that, put up a hand and say “hush” to the blathering gibberish and actually look at the facts for the real story.
The cynics and detractors will tell you that doing a comparative analysis is the equivalent of supporting slackness in the JCF. Of course, that kind of nonsense is a part of the cycle of unwillingness to deal with issues of this nature objectively and honestly.
The truth of the matter is that police corruption is a serious degenerative cancer which diminishes the moral high ground officers of the law must have in order to effectively do their jobs. Unlike in any other discipline, the stain and stench of corrupt police officers tend to stain and stink their colleagues with potentially greater consequence.
In the United States, for example, a cop asking an errant motorist for a couple of dollars to purchase lunch is literally non-existent, because they are not destitute or unable to find money to pay for their own lunch. That is not to say that in many cities across the United States police officers do not rob drug dealers of their illicit gains, but they are generally paid enough of a living wage so they do not have to scrounge illegally in order to survive.
A cop who ask a motorist for a bribe is an embarrassment to himself and to his department, a cop who falsifies a report and sends an innocent person to prison for a crime he never committed wrecks lives, families, and destroys communities.
And so when we hold both scenarios up neither is good but one is far worse than the other.
In a perfect world, I prefer not to have an officer who pulls me over try to shake me down for money, but I would much rather a cop asks me for lunch money because he is hungry, rather than a cop who planted drugs on me because he did not like the color. of my skin.
Now that we have done the parallels I hope you at least understand that in the greater scheme of things the JCF is not irredeemable,despite what the naysayers tell you.
Listen as Mike break this issue down in a simple yet honest and precise way.
BERATING THE POLICE
Former Minister of National Security Robert Montague would certainly not have been my first choice for Minister of National Security at the time he was given the job. I guessed Montague realized that he did not bring much if any expertise to the job, and so he set out to learn on the job.
He did stumble like we all do, but if Bobby Montague did nothing else, he certainly endeared himself to the average cop and he absolutely endeared himself to this ex-cop.
Bobby Montague understood the importance of morale in a job like policing and he worked to restore morale with marked success before he was moved to a different job.
Speaking on the constant bad mouthing of the police Bobby Montague spoke to a truth that many do not want to hear in our country.
The Inspectorate Branch of the JCF, Montague argues, estimates that the JCF is 5% corrupt. conversely, the darling of the elitist class INDECOM, assesses that the JCF is 3% corrupt.
Now we all would like to have a police department that is 0% corrupt but since we no longer source our officers from the planet Utopia, we take the 3% and work to lower that number.
So much for the notion police cannot police itself, nevertheless, that is not the point of this article. It is important to understand that unless we fix some of the structural deficiencies in the police vis-a-vis low wages, poor leadership, and lack of resources as they also exist across the wider society, corruption will persist and will be exponentially difficult to eradicate.
As was to be expected, Bobby Montague’s call fell on deaf ears. In our country which is essentially one of the most, if not the most anti-police countries in the world, hating and berating the police guarantees instant fame and success. Given the high crime rate, the continued tearing down and disrespectful behavior directed at the police is directly tied to the trajectory of serious crimes.
The Government has not led by setting an example. It has not devised a strategy for the country to follow by supporting the police unequivocally. In fact, the Minister of Justice is openly hostile to the police and the rule of law despite cosmetic appearances which seek to give an illusory effect that his ministry does.
Not only that, shockingly, there are agencies within the Government which are actively hostile to the police, something literally unseen in any other country. It defies logic that a Government would tolerate one agency actively militating against another agency of the said government. Least of all, one as critical as the agency tasked with national security.
Not only is INDECOM antagonistic to the police department, the justice ministry, under the leadership of Delroy Chuck is inherently hostile and dedicated to being injurious to the police. Additionally, the office of the public defender, another agency of the government is openly hostile, that agency is conspicuously and gleefully works against the police department. The Government does nothing.
It is the classic personification of an entity cannibalizing itself to the detriment and chagrin of the country and its law-abiding citizens.
In recent times the Appeals Court ruled that INDECOM has no power under the statute to arrest police officers. That ruling also stated correctly that INDECOM must investigate and submit the findings of it’s investigations to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
At the same time, the courts opined that INDECOM’s agents may arrest police officers using their common-law powers of arrests. The same powers every citizen has to arrest an offender if he/she observes a crime being committed.
The latter part of the ruling which speaks to common law arrests was indeed asinine as ordinary citizens may only arrest if they see a crime being committed. INDECOM’s agents cannot and do not observe police officers being committed in their view and so whatever arrests they may have made are illegal.
Immediately after the ruling the commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams argued that the ruling was a win for him and his agency as they had only arrested on common law.
It is important to understand that since INDECOM’s agents cannot and have not seen police officers committing crimes then the arrests they made were illegal arrests and were a clear infringement of the constitutional rights of those officers.
Since then Terrence Williams has filed a motion to the Judicial Committee of the Privy council in England to stay the Appellate court’s decision and has reversed his original statements to the local press that the ruling was a win for him and INDECOM, stating that he spoke too soon after the ruling.
INDECOM as an agency of the Government is clearly a rogue agency which does not answer to the Government or is going about this clearly with the blessings of the Andrew Holness Administration.
Immediately after the ruling Delroy Chuck the minister of Justice jumped into the fray, stating categorically that the intent of the parliament was to give the power of arrest to INDECOM at the time the legislation was drafted.
That statement cannot be true, regardless of the incompetence of the framers of the legislation, if the intent was to give powers of arrests to INDECOM, which would essentially be an act of creating another police force, the language would have been clear and unequivocal.
Since then a few legal minds have argued that investigators should not prosecute their own investigations. Despite the statement of intent coming from Delroy Chuck that he intends to see that the power of arrest is given to INDECOM, Terrence Williams has stated that he cannot wait for that to happen.
This is a serious breach of protocol if ever there was one. It seems that INDECOM is operating without any oversight or supervision.
A super agency answerable to no one, all while using the tax-payers money, almost $300 million of it per year, in addition to the slush of foreign money which pours into the agency’s coffers to mount legal battles and challenges in court.
PRECEDENT FOR THIS
Far from being an authority on this, I have decided to look at other countries in our hemisphere to see whether there exist any police oversight Agency which investigates arrests and does its own prosecution. In New York city the Civilian Complaints Review Board (CCRB)is staffed by lawyers who hear complaints against the city’s 36’000 plus officers but charges are referred back to the police Commissioner for disciplinary action.
In cases where there may be criminal conduct by police, investigations are carried out and dealt with by the District Attorney as in all other cases.
According to the Observer.com, shockingly, the main reason police in the UK are unarmed is because the officers refuse to carry guns. They have a sensible reason for not wanting guns. Maybe Jamaican police should adopt this posture and not take on the stress of really doing policing the real way.
Every time someone is shot by the police in the UK, the case is referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). In practice, this means the officer is investigated by his professional standards body automatically and can face the sack and prosecution if it rules against him. These investigations are lengthy, stressful, and carry a huge amount of risk for the officer concerned. In fact, they are so feared that not only do the police refuse to be routinely armed, specialist firearms teams struggle to find candidates willing to do the job.
The INDECOM act was drafted and modeled after this system in the UK, the fact that Hamish Campbell is in Jamaica is a testament to that fact. Nevertheless despite all of the forgone, the Investigative Agency the (IPCC) still does not arrest and prosecute cops who are to be charged with a crime.
The report went on to say quote: To be clear, police have worked out that it’s safer to be unarmed when fighting thugs and terrorists than it is to risk being hung out to dry by their leadership and the IPCC. http://observer.com/2017/04/reason-british-police-unarmed/
Most violent crimes committed in the UK, even terrorist acts, are carried out by assailants who use knives or vehicles as their weapons of choice to kill and maim.
The reason for that is that it is incredibly difficult for people to get their hands on guns in the UK, which has extremely stringent gun laws, as opposed to the US which has more guns than people and Jamaica which is awash in legal and illegal guns.
For those advocating for INDECOM, it is important that there is some clarity on this issue as it relates to why that kind of oversight which may work for now in the UK, is extremely hazardous and foolish for Jamaica.
If the Government persists in allowing INDECOM to do as it pleases cops must refuse to carry guns as the British police have done.
We cannot ask our officers to go out and face dangerous killers then crucify them when they use lethal force against those same killers.