Last Friday, the Appeals Court ruled that INDECOM does not have the right to arrest or charge police officers. For current members of the JCF and former officers alike, this ruling is like a breath of fresh air. Since the inception of the INDECOM Act, police officers have complained that they have been treated unfairly by its members. There are even reports that officers were disarmed in public and sometimes bullied to give statements to its investigators.
The ramifications of the Appeals Court’s ruling is vital for the future of INDECOM, but more importantly for the cases pending, and for other cases where officers have been convicted? Does this mean that those cases will be dismissed and all the convictions overturned? Does this mean INDECOM will cease and desist from investigating officers and stop bringing charges against them? The Appeal Court’s ruling distinctly states that they have no authority to carry out their mandate as stipulated by the current law.
However, they like any citizen can arrest anyone under Common Law. Does that mean they will arrest officers under Common Law, to show that they still have the power to carry out their mandate? Arresting officers under Common Law would be contrary to the INDECOM Act, as they are mandated to arrest offending officers not as a private citizen but as an officer of the commission, which the Appeals Court ruled against. Based on the ruling by the Appeals Court, INDECOM’s mandate is, in essence, limited to being an oversight body.
They should only be able to monitor or investigate the actions of the police, but bringing charges should be under the purview of the DPP. So, what role would the DPP play in this saga? That is the answer I am eagerly waiting to have. The Prime Minister at the last JLP annual general meeting hinted at making changes to the INDECOM Act, because he felt that they are holding officers hostage and are negatively impacting the morale of the men and women of the JCF. The consensus by many Jamaicans is that officers are afraid of charges been brought against them by INDECOM, and so, they are reluctant to put their lives on the line to confront dangerous criminals.
If this is true, and this writers believes it is, then we have seen how emboldened criminals have become. The bloodletting has continued unabatedly throughout most of the island, because criminals are aware that officers are not risking their lives to combat them, thanks to INDECOM. There are numerous videos circulating on social media, showing officers being assaulted, verbally abused, sometimes left with their uniforms torn and are ridiculed by these thugs, much to the delight of the people they risk their lives daily to protect.
In many of these instances the officer don’t even retaliate fearing that if they do, INDECOM will come to investigate and perhaps bring charges against them. As we know, cops are abhorrently underpaid in Jamaica, so most officer can’t afford to hire a lawyer and that is a major factor why they do not react to the assaults meted out on them. Maybe this is why The Prime Minister has promised to set up a fund to help officers pay for legal fees after being charged by this phony organization.
The coming days and months will be significant as we await INDECOM’s appeal to the Privy Council. But yesterday’s ruling should surely improve the morale of the men and women of the JCF, and is an important win not only for the officers, but for all law-abiding people of Jamaica. The officers will be more encouraged to perform their duties without the fear of being hunted and charged by these zealous prima donnas, whose sole purposes are to humiliate the people who are protecting them from criminals. Jamaica has myriads of economic and social issues that have plunged the country into chaos, resulting in a chronic problem with crime.
Jamaica has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest homicide rates on the planet and definitely in the Western Hemisphere. However, the country is still a vibrant democracy and unlike some countries that set up kangaroo courts, which try and imprison their opponents, Jamaicans of any stripe can go to court to seek justice. This is exactly what transpired with members of the JCF, from gazetted officers to District Constables challenging the INDECOM Act and winning.
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