Corruption haunts police force

Jamaicans believe more than half of JCF tainted

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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Veteran pollster Bill Johnson's latest survey has found that Jamaicans believe more than half of the country's police are corrupt.

At the same time, just under 50 per cent of those polled say they do not believe the constabulary's version of controversial police actions in communities. Interestingly, those who said they did not know whether or not to believe the police's version of incidents outnumber respondents who said they accept the cops' account of events.

Commissioned by the Jamaica Observer, Johnson and his team of researchers canvassed the views of 1,008 Jamaicans islandwide between January 21 and 24, 2019.

The issue of corruption, which has haunted the police force for decades, was included in the poll which also had a focus on the just ended state of emergency and the general performance of the police.

In their discourse with the respondents, the pollsters noted that there has been a lot of talk about police corruption in Jamaica with some people saying that only a very small percentage of police officers are corrupt, while others argue that most cops are corrupt.

The pollsters then asked: “Based on your own experiences, and from what you've heard and read, what percentage of the police officers in Jamaica do you think are corrupt?”

The mean response amounted to 55 per cent.

When the pollsters further asked: “What percentage of the police officers in the area you live in do you think are corrupt?” the mean response totalled 31 per cent.

The public's belief runs counter to the view expressed by former National Security Minister Robert Montague who, in January last year, while announcing the Government's intention to introduce a revamped Early Retirement Scheme for police officers as part of mechanisms to rid the Jamaica Constabulary Force of corrupt members, said that while corruption in the police force remains a significant challenge, the vast majority of the members are law-abiding, patriotic Jamaicans who work diligently in the service of their fellow citizens.

In relation to controversial police actions in communities, 47 per cent of those polled said they do not believe the constabulary's version of events, 22 per cent said they believed the cops, while 31 per cent said they don't know.

That finding supports numerous media reports of community responses to police actions, particularly fatal shootings which are probed by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

That agency, in its second quarterly report last year, stated that it received 217 categories of complaints from 186 incidents reported for the period.

“The top five categories of complaints include: assault (70), discharge of firearm (46), fatal shooting (33), shooting injury (24), and unlawful wounding (7),” INDECOM said.

TOMORROW: Would people who witnessed a serious crime be willing to help the police?

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