As news emerged that a bunch of police officers may be arrested soon for alleged breaches of the law new information surfaced that police officers from one of the branches of the force actually accosted the men who assassinated businessman Richard Ramdial last Tuesday at around 4: 30 pm and released them.
According to Élan Powell Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for crime “at the time, the cops were satisfied that the men were clear, having searched them and checked their hands for gun powder residue”.
Shockingly, Powell says the vehicle was stopped after the police control broadcast a radio transmission detailing the getaway car and its license plate number.
If you are in shock at reading this so am I from hearing it.
Having policed the streets of Kingston and other towns and villages with some of the very best anti-crime officers anywhere in the world I have tried to give the officers in the case the benefit of the doubt.
I have tried placing myself in their shoes and mulled the scenario as it may have occurred over and over in my head and I cannot find a single reason or situation in which this would have happened on my watch.
Whether it’s Bigga Ford or Parra Campbell, Dadrick Henry or Mckinnis, Allan Campbell or Little Wicked I cannot imagine any of these anti-crime cops stopping a car in which the plates on the vehicle matches one from police dispatch and the occupants are released.
Jamaican cops are particularly hesitant about getting involved, particularly as it relates to the detention of suspects.
With the traps and snares the government placed in their way, I totally understand their apprehension about putting themselves in legal jeopardy.
Because of the INDECOM Act, police officers have to be doubly sure that they are 100% inhumanly perfect and correct before and during their interaction with even the most violent and dangerous criminals.
In this case, however, officers on the streets responding to information put out by dispatch is protected from liability because they are acting on information from the control room.
Set aside those concerns. The most consequential statement Powell made is that the officers took it upon themselves to carry out an arcane field test for gunpowder residue on the hands of the suspects before releasing them.
Powell the man tasked with handling the nation’s crime was never a crime fighter himself but I want to be fair to him in this even though the ridiculous nature of the police story begs derision.
I was not aware that the police had the means to do field tests for gunpowder residue? I guess as far as the officers are concerned the suspects passed the smell test[sic].
It is not every day that killers get apprehended minutes after they kill. If the allegations, in this case, are true, it makes it doubly distressing that these men were released.
If the plates matched that given by police dispatch under no circumstances could the police rationally release the occupants of the car regardless of who they are, what they had or did not have.
The most fundamental piece of information given to the police was the plate number. As a former Investigator, I can tell you there are far too many changes which could have occurred between the time mister Ramdial was gunned down and the car was stopped.
Regardless of weapons, gunpowder, or any other exculpatory factor with the occupants of that particular car they were not going anywhere were I in the shoes of these officers.
So we are left with a situation in which a few things comes to mind. In the first instance.
(1) Corruption in the mind of the anti-police trolls.
Hard to make that case as time and the severity of the crime militate against this. Possible yes probable no.
(2)Incompetence. Possibly yes.
(3) Too collegiate? Possibly.
(4) Too timid and afraid? Highly Possibly.
No matter how you slice this, if the information presented is true this is simply one of the most boneheaded occurrences to ever happen in the JCF. This is only one more log on the fire of discontent and disillusionment with the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
These are unforced errors which the JCF simply cannot continue to use to beat itself.
For years the JCF has done a shitty job of recruitment, background checks, spotting and rooting out bad applicants to the agency.
Yes, the Jamaican society is as corrupt as most other countries, officers have to come from that dirty pool. It cannot be ignored however that the awesome power given to the poorest people would garner immense scrutiny.
The incredible incompetence and corruption displayed by far too many in the JCF have caused even some who served to become critics at large.
The truth is they knew they were no good yet they were able to get in.
Now they are the most vocal critics of the force. Such is it when the agency allows itself time and again to be the Barney Fyffe of law enforcement.
The worse of the worse have much to say.
I’ll await the outcome of Élan Powell’s investigations.