Ridiculous, unfair and ungrateful
Jason McKay

Rohan "Baugh" Fraser was one of the most capable, although not the most notorious villain to be produced in the gang factory of Tivoli Gardens.

He was brutal, athletic, brave and arrogant, a combination that made him a dangerous opponent of law enforcement and a difficult personality to control.

This control issue resulted in him being put on the top of a public list put out by the head of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the parliamentarian responsible for western Kingston, Edward Seaga, in the mid-nineties.

Now you had to be uncontrollable and dangerous for Edward Seaga to do something like that, as one thing he is not guilty of is selling out his gangsters.

However, Baugh was that dangerous, that even sir Eddie feared him.

In Baugh's last mad escapade, he hid in a roof and came crashing down, gun in hand, through the ceiling during a search of the premises of his home, whilst engaging a number of surprised police officers who were conducting a clearing of the house during a raid. That was in 1997.

He was killed in that incident, three police officers were charged with his murder and were later acquitted.

Christopher Grant was only 15 years old when he entered the Above Rocks Police Station with a five-shot .38 revolver and shot three persons, killing two. He then proceeded to rob the slain officer of his firearm.

This act is significant on several levels that include nerve, ruthlessness and brutality, coupled with an absolute absence of any empathy for the lives of human beings, or their suffering.

To simply attempt that incursion in an environment that other armed persons were, with a weapon with such limited capacity, speaks to an indication of what he was capable of in the future.

He was killed in a shootout with law enforcement in what became the famous 'Braeton Seven' incident in 2001.

Four police officers were charged with his murder and later acquitted.

Okelly Brown was a member of the famous 'Umbrella' gang that operates in Newland, Portmore.

He, though not as famous as the other two noted above, was just as brutal and equally as dangerous.

Brown was charged several times and acquitted just as many. Witnesses just wouldn't turn up.

I grew to know him well as I had charged him once myself and detained him many times. I recall a conversation with him where in convincing me he had not been present in a shooting he was charged with, he noted that he would not have allowed the complainant to survive.

There was one night in the early 2000s that he was implicated in the murder of four persons in four separate incidents.

When he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement over five years ago, a police officer was charged with his murder, and later acquitted.

Ok. So what is the takeaway here? It's too much to hold in one article.

Firstly, two of the three incidents noted above occurred before the establishment of Indecom.

It just goes to show that Jamaica's disregard for their police officers did not start in 2011. It just became profitable at that time.

Secondly, it demonstrates that there is a fundamental flaw in our justice system, that allows for the continued destruction of the lives of law enforcement officers.

Thirdly, it speaks volumes for how disconnected the various arms of authority in our country are that allows for this problem to continue.

So what is the flaw?

The flaw is that we charge our officers based on statements – statements that are usually given by family members of the deceased, fellow members of his gang, or persons in the community that is controlled by the gang that the deceased killer is a member of.

It is obvious that the above noted witnesses are seriously compromised.

However, the system rules on files with statements. If triable issues present themselves, then charges must be laid.

I understand this, but we can't be this myopic.

This is an obvious problem that continues to exist because we are not one body dealing with the threat of the gangs. There are several arms of the justice system. The arm that prosecutes is totally separate from the arm that is dealing with the threat from the gangs on a minute by minute basis.

It also continues to exist because no Government has ever taken the steps to truly deal with the issue of police officers' lives being destroyed by being criminally charged.

It's not the fault of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). They are following the law.

How can this be addressed?

We need to stop the process of ruling against the police in shootouts with known gunmen, and send those type of cases to the Coroner's Court so the evidence can be tested.

The process of charging police personnel is destructive to their lives, careers, and families. It also destroys morale and is a weapon used by gangs to subjugate law enforcement's efforts to defeat them.

It's not okay because police personnel are usually 'poor people pickney'.

People, the gangs represent a threat to the very fabric of our national security. We are going to lose if we don't find a way to tie the tools they are using to defend themselves.

The practice of them using our courts to rid themselves of opponents in the police force has to stop, or we will descend to new levels of their control every few years.

Let me give you an example.

We have got used to businessmen paying extortion. We now accept that taxi men pay it, and vendors. What's next?

There is a new practice of regular citizens in garrisons having to pay extortion to gang members. This is not limited to small shops and taxi men, but everyone with a job.

This misery is going to spread and spread fast.

This is an example of what is to come. I say this to reinforce my point that every avenue to prevent the continued growth and strength of the gangs must take centre stage.

We have to be dynamic and adjust policies that they are manipulating to their benefit.

The forcing of false statements to be given is one such tactic being employed and we can cauterise it.

None of the police officers charged in the above noted cases have recovered in totality in relation to their careers. The time absent from duty for years hampered promotions.

The fact that they were interdicted or suspended immediately after being charged comes with financial consequences.

We are in a war and we need to start looking on it in that way.

Either that or accept that we will continue accepting to have less and less control over our lives.

Feedback: drjasonamckay@gmail.com

Jason McKay

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