KINGSTON, Jamaica CMC – Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, is urging law enforcement officials to support the activities of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) even as he stressed the need to continue the high profile action against criminal gangs in Jamaica.
“The public will not judge us kindly if the murder rate returns to the pre 2010 level. We must defeat the gangs, and the way to do that is take the offensive to the criminals. There are criminal elements in Kingston West, Montego Bay, Westmoreland who are today feeling the weight of our resolve. Let the others feel the pressure until they decide to do good,” Ellington noted.
Writing in the weekly “Force Orders” publication of the Jamaica police, Ellington said that it was important to re-state that gangs and organized crime were responsible for the poor state of security and low citizen confidence in the country.
“All over Jamaica there are signs of crime and disorder created by criminal elements who rob, maim, kill and deal in the illicit commodities as they enrich themselves to the peril of law-abiding-citizens.
“That organized crime, gangs and corruption have been assessed as the most credible threat to our nation’s security and well-being, begs a nationally coordinated effort to confront this clear and present danger”.
He reminded law enforcement officials that the INDECOM was created to investigate all use of force incidents involving the police and so far, “their results are vindicating us in up to 80 percent of cases where we deploy force to defend our lives and the lives of others”.
The Commissioner said that he is aware of concerns from police officers as well as the Police Federation regarding the operations of INDECOM.
“There are concerns about the impact on force morale, officers’ confidence and operational readiness, brought on by frequent demands to attend INDECOM offices to give statements or to appear before the Courts as accused persons where INDECOM alleges that members fail to carry out its directives.
“Be reminded that whenever you are required to take part in INDECOM investigations, you are treated as suspects. This has always been the tone of INDECOM notices. Even where it is suggested that you are required as witnesses, you should remember, that INDECOM can change your status to suspect at any stage in the course of its investigations.”
Ellington said that being the case, he was advising that as citizens in a county governed by the rule of law, police officers are also entitled to certain rights.
“These include the presumption of innocence, the right to protection against self-incrimination and the right to legal counsel,” he said, urging officers to cooperate with INDECOM investigators, “but take advantage of the support systems we have put in place to safeguard your rights”.
He said the officers should always contact the Police Legal Officers through their Commanding Officers when you are approached by INDECOM investigators.
“We will assist you with legal representation. We have been assured of financial support from the Ministry of National Security to offset the cost of legal representation to members who are the subject of INDECOM investigation and we want to ensure that the support is made available to you.
“It is unacceptable for you to be putting your lives on the line daily to protect the population and then having to expend your thin wages, to pay for legal representations when your actions are being investigated. We will safeguard you against this burden.”