Jamaicans for Justice Welcomes Police Reforms and Awaits Further Details of Plans


A disturbing – almost surreal – incident took place recently that left us all shocked and deeply confused. Two civilians – including a man at a dance, whose murder apparently sparked the chain of events, and a driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – as well as one police officer, ended up dead in Chedwin Park. Subsequently one of the policemen wanted by his colleagues in connection with the shootings went to a media house and, inexplicably, told the journalists a complex story, while sitting in a dark room. Should they have been talking to a wanted man to hear “his side of the story“? I guess this was a “scoop” of sorts. The policeman turned himself in on May 6.

Mobile Reserve police on patrol in August Town. (Photo: Jamaica Star)

Whatever the turn of events, this drama seemed to have been the last straw for Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang. The issue of police reform is firmly back on the agenda, as Minister Chang announced a few days later that the Mobile Reserve (never the most trusted wing of the Jamaica Constabulary Force) would be disbanded this year. Senior Superintendent of Police Terrence Bent, who heads the Mobile Reserve, was sent on leave pending investigations. Interestingly, almost a year ago Minister Chang announced the establishment of a “Mobile Reserve West” in Montego Bay. Just a couple of days after the Chedwin Park incident, a member of the Mobile Reserve was shot dead in a Kingston bar.

Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) continues to bleat: “Where is the Crime Plan?” They seem to be assuming that there is no such plan. But, if you were trying to catch criminals, would you reveal how, where and what you would be doing? No, I thought not. Moving right along… Below is the human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice’s recent press release. I am posting it rather late – but we should know, tomorrow, whether the policemen, who are in custody, will be charged. And hopefully, more light will be shed on this murky matter. Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn has described the case file as “voluminous.” One can imagine!

What really did happen? Hopefully, we will soon know.

JAMAICANS FOR JUSTICE
2 Fagan Avenue, Kingston 8.
Tel: (876) 755-4524
Fax: (876) 755-4355    communications@jamaicansforjustice.org

PRESS RELEASE

JFJ WELCOMES JCF REFORMS; AWAITS FURTHER DETAILS OF PLANS

MAY 6, 2019

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) notes with concern the reports of the events which recently unfolded in Chedwin Park, St Catherine involving members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that left two civilians and one police officer dead and a cloud of controversy hanging over the Force.

Since the incident, numerous conflicting reports have emerged from official sources, which has led to immense uncertainty about what actually occurred. It is yet to be seen whether the emerging discrepancies are due to inaccurate or incomplete records being kept and proper procedures not being followed, or merely as a result of gaps in internal communication.

Cops used Police Resources

Reports have stated that the three police officers involved in the incident were traveling in a JCF unmarked vehicle, with JCF issued firearms and blue flashing lights used by the police on official business. Reports also indicate that at least one of these officers was previously charged with murder, and another should have been suspended but was not.

Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, notes that even though it is the norm, suspension is not automatic for officers who have been charged with murder, and even when removed from frontline duty, they may still have access to police resources. This highlights a glaring failure of the system that not only allows officers to continue working despite pending court proceedings against them, but also allows them to have unfettered access to police resources which can be used for unofficial – possibly criminal – activities.

Major General Antony Anderson, Commissioner of Police. (Photo: JIS)

Reform recommendations date back to 2016

JFJ welcomes the investigations into this incident initiated by INDECOM, the JCF’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Inspectorate of Constabulary. We hope the results of these probes and the resulting recommendations will guide the new direction of the JCF by updating relevant policies and frameworks to correct the systemic deficiencies within the Force.

JFJ also welcomes the announcement by the Ministry of National Security about plans to reform the JCF.

“The dissolution of the Mobile Reserve is in line with recommendations made by JFJ as far back as 2016 after the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report was published. In that report, the officers attached to the Mobile Reserve were found to have been the main perpetrators of extrajudicial killings in the Tivoli Gardens Incursion. This, coupled with information gleaned from our records of human rights violations, spurred our call for the disbandment of the Mobile Reserve and its replacement with a Unit that was excluded from community patrolling. This call was echoed at that time by various stakeholders, including former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mark Shields.” – Monique Long, Policy and Advocacy Manager.

JFJ welcomes JCF reforms

We look forward to receiving additional details regarding the planned reforms from the Commissioner of Police. We urge the Government to ensure the reform process includes thorough and inclusive consultations with the people of Jamaica and all the relevant stakeholders. Occasions for input both, before and after the drafting of the legislation must be provided.

We also recommend that any reform of the JCF involves replacing the existing paramilitary force paradigm with that of a modern police service, a clearly incorporated commitment to policing in a human rights framework and a firm commitment to accountability under a civilian supervisory body.

The proposed reform of the JCF offers an opportunity for a profound transformation of one of Jamaica’s vital state entities. JFJ firmly believes that this well-needed reform must be transparent, well-documented and must form part of a concrete, sustainable crime-fighting strategy. JFJ continues to offer its assistance to the Government and the Police High Command as we all work towards a safe and crime-free Jamaica.

 


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