MOCA targets young cops

Agency reaches out to rookies in anti-corruption programme

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Online reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 09, 2018



The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) says it is engaged in an outreach programme aimed at deterring young cops from falling into “pitfalls and traps of corruption”.

“Over the past three years MOCA has had close to 400 outreach programmes and projects” which have impacted over 40,000 people, among them young police, “particularly those in training school”, MOCA head Colonel Desmond Edwards said yesterday at the signing of a sub-award agreement between MOCA and National Integrity Action (NIA) at NIA's office in Kingston.

“We speak to them about the pitfalls and traps of corruption. These officers are a part of the solution to improving the profile and reputation of the organisation that they represent,” Colonel Edwards added.

MOCA has recently been thrust into the spotlight after a call was made by head of the Police Civilian Oversight Authority Professor Anthony Harriott for parliamentarians to urgently pass legislation separating MOCA from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

However, Edwards responded that since its inception MOCA has always acted independently of the JCF, even though the agency has cops on its team.

“We are separated from the JCF. We have been operating independent of the JCF since we've been set up. So, while I have policemen on staff, they are on secondment to MOCA. So MOCA is not a division of the JCF. It's a separate entity working with its own mandate. We are supported by the JCF, but we are separate. I don't report to the commissioner of police,” Edwards said.

Debate on legislation to establish an independent body to fight organised crime in Jamaica, including detecting and investigating crime kingpins and people who facilitate their activities, started last October in the House of Representatives.

Clause 6 of the Act outlines the functions of the agency. In addition to investigative and prosecutorial duties related to serious crimes, it will also receive complaints in relation to alleged or suspected acts involving serious crime; gather, store, process, analyse and disseminate information that is relevant to activities to combat serious crime; and carry out counter-terrorism functions as may be conferred on the agency by the minister.

Yesterday, MOCA said the sub-agreement between itself and NIA forms part of the corruption watchdog's mandate “to build integrity, and strengthen governance and combat corruption”.

The agreement also formalised a $45-million contribution from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist MOCA with its anti-corruption projects over the next year.

“MOCA is of central importance to Jamaica's advancement and to NIA's mission. We included support for the agency when we submitted a proposal to USAID two years ago to come to a cooperative agreement and they agreed,” said NIA Executive Director Trevor Munroe, who added that both organisations were grateful for the contribution.

Colonel Edwards noted that MOCA's anti-lottery scamming message in St James was one of its initiatives geared towards educating and dissuading youth (ages 12-17) from “getting dragged into nefarious activities”.

“One of the major thrusts that we have had at MOCA is building capacity. We have been doing our utmost to bring our investigators, who are all very competent police officers, to a new level of competence, particularly as it has to do with complex matters of conspiracy and deep-rooted corruption and the like,” Edwards said.

However, he added that MOCA has been challenged in recent times because of lack of the “right resources”.

“The signing today represents a significant step in the right direction, as it will assist MOCA to be more effective in its outreach programmes. It will also help us significantly with building the public awareness of MOCA,” he said.

“It is also very timely as well because of the impending passage of the MOCA Bill, which has gone to the Senate. This contribution will help us to step off in a big way and on the right foot,” Edwards said.

Meanwhile, Munroe said that the NIA has also been “successful” in advocating the strengthening of anti-corruption legislation and partnering with the JCF and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution in their training efforts towards the fight against crime and corruption.

“We want to plug the gaps in our anti-corruption framework and for that reason we have advocated consistently, and recently with some degree of success, a number of legislation and regulations to strengthen that framework,” he said, referring to the legislation requiring that political parties be registered and their campaign financing regulated.

“We are first in the Caribbean to have this level of disclosure in relation to parties being registered and therefore being able to be deregistered if they misbehave,” Munroe said.

However, he pointed out that although legislation such as these exist, the problem was “effectively enforcing them”.

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