Police corruption hindering crime fighting in Jamaica
Jamaica continues to have a major problem with widespread corruption within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and this has been preventing it from effectively dealing with the ever-increasing levels of crime in the country.
Corruption in the JCF has always been a problem; however, it has reached unprecedented levels and continues to get worse. Many years ago, then Prime Minister P J Patterson stated in Parliament that a corrupt police force cannot effectively investigate corruption, and he was correct. It stands factual even to today.
I also remember a top-ranking senior superintendent of police, while speaking to then radio talk show host Wilmot “Motty” Perkins several years ago, stating on the programme that there needs to be a commission of enquiry into the officer corps of the JCF for there were allegedly some senior officers at that time involved with drug traffickers and organised crime, but no form of investigation ever took place. It would seem to me that there is the need for such an enquiry into the JCF’s officer corps at this time to extricate the corrupt senior officers from the force.
The police force’s clear-up rate for murder is under 40 per cent, and this situation should be addressed by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson. It is quite clear to me that the level of training for police detectives and investigators should be upgraded for they are grossly undertrained and not exposed to modern crime-fighting skills and internationally accepted investigative standards, such as those currently in use in the United States, England, and Israel.
The majority of cases that are being prepared and presented to the courts by police investigators are poorly prepared and oftentimes the cases are postponed for extended periods of time. Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has in recent times spoken out about sloppily prepared cases by the police being brought to the courts. I agree with the honourable chief justice.
Why is it that the major drug barons in the country are not being comprehensively investigated, arrested, and prosecuted in the courts? On many occasions cocaine is seized at the wharves, airports, and other locations and no one is arrested, which could lead one to reasonably conclude that some drug traffickers are above the law and/or the crime involves police and army corruption.
Several security commentators in Jamaica have asked this very same question. Over the past five years there have been several reports coming from our international partners that drug trafficking has become worse in Jamaica and not enough is being done to address this serious national security problem of huge proportions. This billion-dollar illegal drug-trading problem in Jamaica is damaging the reputation of Jamaica and is out of control and deserves the immediate attention of the prime minister and his Cabinet, that is how devastating and serious things are now.
Money laundering is another serious crime on the increase, and it involves legitimate business owners. They must all be thoroughly investigated and brought before the courts, convicted, and sentenced to the full extent of the law. Greater use must be made of the Proceeds of Crime Act. Seize more and more assets from the organised crime barons and this will crush them significantly and serve as a severe deterrent to others thinking of getting involved. Take the profit out of crime and it will be reduced over time.
Crime in Jamaica will only get worse if the corruption in the police force is not dealt with surgically. Sometime ago a former police commissioner stated that there was rampant corruption in the St James police division and in other sections of western Jamaica where some police officers are involved with lottery scammers, gang leaders, and drug traffickers, and there is the need for a thorough cleaning up of the police force in this region.
It is prime time for action now, Minister Horace Chang and Police Commissioner Anderson. Montego Bay is a large base for illegal drug barons and wealthy lottery scammers and they are using their vast wealth to corrupt the police officers in Montego Bay and other western parishes. Action is required through a comprehensive investigation.
What is the current status of Corporal Rohan James, former chairman of the Police Federation, who is on police suspension? I have always admired James as an officer of integrity and an excellent advocate for rank-and-file police officers. He was doing an excellent job and his issue requires urgent attention by Commissioner Anderson and Minister Chang.
I am recommending that former Assistant Commissioner of Police Keith “Trinity” Gardner be appointed national security advisor to the Holness-led Cabinet.
Frank L R Manborde