Deputy INDECOM Commissioner Mr. H. Campbell was the bearer of this rather shameful, yet not shocking news on the conduct of the Jamaican police. They have a not too enviable record of abuse, and scant regard for the respect for life of citizens. Findings by INDECOM repeatedly paints this sordid picture. We have heard it anecdotally for years and have seen public placard bearing demonstrations play out on television over the years. Some 40 percent of police fatal killings of citizens have occurred during police planned operations or raids and the citizens were found to be unharmed. Not even a pen knife or a pencil. Shocking indeed!
In 2020 there was a 45 percent increase in reports of abuse of citizens by police.
These chilling revelations were released by the police watchdog at their quarterly press conference September 30, 2021.
Right To Life
In 2010 INDECOM was set up to monitor police citizen’s interaction. There have been repeated complaints that the security forces mainly the police were seen as systematically abusing citizens rights and their right to life was being put on the back burner. Government with the help of international partners including the diaspora sources were forced to react by assisting with the funding to set up INDECOM.
Dr. Horace Chang
The national security Minister has not been very complimentary of the police watchdog which was set up to curtail police excesses. INDECOM is reporting that in 2020 there has been a 45 percent increase in police abuse of citizens rights. This is cause for much concern. Wayne Walker News Editor of Nationwide News has outlined to us a sad state of affairs as it relates to police citizens interaction. It does not instill much confidence in our police force. In fact the report paints a picture of a deteriorating state of affairs in the area of human rights.
Minister Chang does not seem to fully appreciate the value of INDECOM. He is alleged to have said that INDECOM has too much power. This alleged badmouthing of the police watchdog cannot be in the best interest of citizens police relations. The police must think twice before it thinks of using excessive force. The right to life must be the priority of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members.
19 Rogue Cops?
The September 30, 2021, last quarter INDECOM report has fingered 19 rogue Cops who have been repeated complaints made against them. A total of about 100 complaints against these 19 Officers alone.
“These are not isolated complaints”
Asserts the Deputy Commissioner Campbell whose thirsty analysis reverberated through the halls of injustice. It was chilling and is cause for some concern.
Comish Anderson & D. Brooks of JCF
We are yet to get a reaction from the powers at be to this latest damning report from INDECOM. Comish Major Anderson & Mr. Dennis Brooks, JCF’s Senior Com. Strategist need to address this atrocity.
Commissioner Faulkner speaks out:
Responding to questions asked in a radio interview about the damning report the police watchdog head aka INDECOM said inter alia:
“ln five (5) years some 1,500 complaints have been made against the police including assaults at common law and grievous bodily harm. Nineteen (19) officers chalk up almost 100 complaints”
Body Worn Cameras
The US embassy had donated 120 body worn cameras to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). We have heard nothing of this gift.
Asked about the police non wearing of body cameras the INDECOM head asserted:
“Some body worn cameras were tested and found to be unsuitable. Also a retired police officer is suing a current serving member of the force for assault. The matter is currently before the court.”
Security expert Mr. F. Smith speaking in a radio interview today October 1, 2021 said inter alia:
“The INDECOM report & other events show a lack of confidence in the police force by citizens. Police need to urgently employ the use of body worn cameras. A private security company after one incident has deployed the use of same.”
Asserts the known security expert Smith.
The unfortunate murders of at least two police officers in Jamaica by unknown assailants to date, in 2021 is cause for much concern. Our sympathy to the loved ones et al of the officers. Any attack against the police is seen as an attack against the state.
This latest INDECOM report makes for not so great reading and is very revealing. It paints a picture of a brutal police force out of control. Will there be reforms? Will the powers at be ignore these latest findings and move forward, business as usual.? They may be too ashamed or shell shocked to respond to this latest INDECOM report. We may have a long time to wait before any meaningful reforms take place. What is your perspective?
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist and senior international journalist who writes for Vision Newspaper.