A matter of credibility, Commissioner Quallo

Friday, August 11, 2017

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Most likely, Police Commissioner George Quallo has strong reason to support the findings of a committee established by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to review the behaviour of five policemen accused of misconduct during the May 2010 security forces' operation in West Kingston.

However, Commissioner Quallo should know that the fact that the committee was set up by the JCF raises the issue of impartiality, which is what has led to critics questioning the credibility of its findings.

Readers will recall that the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry had recommended that the five cops be blocked from leading future police operations because of their roles in the security forces' operation.

However, according to Commissioner Quallo, the JCF's review committee spent days going over the West Kingston report and the police high command has accepted the findings and is “looking at the recommendations”.

The JCF committee said that it examined, assessed, discussed, and analysed statements, transcripts, responses to adverse findings, and other documentary evidence in the Commission of Enquiry report.

The committee also insisted that the police command structure was appropriate, the command protocol was adequate, and that the span of control was clear and effective.

Additionally, the committee argued that the charge of misconduct put forward by the Commission of Enquiry was based primarily on the fact that the five policemen did not produce records of the location of where bodies were found, and their failure to preserve the scenes.

The upshot, the committee said, was that it was unable to determine the “accuracy and trustworthiness” of the records from Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), and that it was not odd to think that bodies were taken to KPH and not recorded.

The committee also said that its examination of relevant documents revealed that the instructions given by the commissioner of police to the ground command were carried out by all concerned and, therefore, the committee was satisfied that there was no dereliction of duty.

As such, the committee said there was no basis for the findings of the Commission of Enquiry against the policemen, therefore there was no reason for them to be barred from duty.

Maybe all that is true, but, as we stated before, the committee's report is being challenged, simply because it is coming from the police force where, as we all know, the 'squaddie' mentality is alive and well.

That was the problem the constabulary was having when its own Bureau of Special Investigations was responsible for probing allegations of abuse, shootings and extra judicial killings against the police.

We have not forgotten that the West Kingston operation was marked by unprovoked acts of violence against the State by gunmen who not only killed policemen, but burnt police stations. Neither will we forget that residents of Tivoli Gardens barricaded the community to prevent law enforcers from entering to arrest Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who was wanted by the US Government on drug and gunrunning charges.

Maybe what the JCF should have done was to subject the Commission of Enquiry recommendation to a legal test.




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