Pain is a wonderful teacher, and in the Caribbean, few countries have experienced economic and social pain like Jamaica.
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Examine questionable lifestyle, finances of officers
The audit committee into the T&T Police Service (TTPS) has recommended the establishment of an “integrity cleansing” system where questionable lifestyles and finances of certain officers can be judiciously examined. This is expected to improve professionalism and increase public confidence in the service, according to the Police Manpower Audit Committee.
This was one of 100 recommendations proposed by the eight-member audit committee headed by criminologist and former chairman of the Police Service Commission, Prof Ramesh Deosaran. The 700-page report was formally presented to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last Tuesday in Parliament. On the front cover of the committee’s report were the words: “No Sacred Cows, Now is the Time.”
The committee reported that data collected from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), the Police Professional Standards Bureau, senior security officials, business organizations, former commissioners and national security ministers, media reports and editorials, TTPS records, hundreds of police officers etc, all expressed strong concerns over corruption, collaboration with criminals and indiscipline in the service.
From inception till 2015, the PCA received a total of 2,139 complaints against police officers.
Of the 2,139 complaints before the PCA, 1,279 are still being actively investigated; 606 investigations have been completed; and 254 of those officers are currently before the courts. According to statistics provided by the PCA, between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, there were 230 allegations of criminal offences, and 442 allegations of disciplinary offences. A total of 674 offences were identified.
As a result of investigations from the Police Service’s Professional Standards Bureau, the T&T Police Service, between 2012 and 2016, suspended over 150 officers from the rank of constable to assistant commissioner, while 63 officers are currently facing charges before the court.
According to the report, a serious implication of the lack of trust in the Police Service is that the work of honest and dedicated officers would also be undermined and obstructed by miscreants and corrupt ones in the service.
While recommending several ways to improve public confidence, the audit committee stated that all the data collected, even from the police officers themselves, show that public confidence in the T&T Police Service is at an all-time low, below 30 per cent.
The committee further concluded that low public confidence in the Police Service undermined police investigations and weakened community policing.
The Police Service, the committee concluded, was too vital an organization to remain in this condition.
Another of the committee’s recommendations is the fast-tracked implementation of the lighter use of force, depending on the level of measured threat.
“Judicious use should be made of taser guns, pepper spray, rubber bullets, body and vehicular cameras and bullet proof vests to position the police at maximum capability and discretion,” the report noted.
Given the changes in the crime, violence and intelligence environment, the committee proposed it would now be of great strategic value if the useful elements of the (former) Sautt and present Strategic Services Agency (SSA) are thoughtfully combined to establish a new evidence-based hybrid anti-crime unit to serve the country’s crime and security needs.
At Tuesday’s presentation, Dr Rowley promised the committee that their report would not be shelved as previous police reports had been, but that he will immediately put this audit committee report before the Cabinet for early action. He also promised to make the report available to the public so they can view the recommendations.
The committee said that after examining the manpower strength of the Police Service (sanctioned, actual), the operational gaps and the views from the wide range of key security stakeholders, it concluded that the challenge is not “more police” but the efficient and effective management of the existing manpower.
BREAKDOWN OF REPORTS RECEIVED BY THE PCA
December 29, 2010 to September 30, 2011: 255 complaints were received;
October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012: 340 complaints were received;
October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013: 470 complaints were received;
October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014: 491 complaints were received;
October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015: 321 complaints were received.
ALLEGATIONS OF DISCIPLINARY OFFENCES
Discreditable Conduct: 191
Neglect of Duty: 108
Unlawful/Unnecessary Exercise of Authority: 75
Breach of Police Service Regulations: 34
Corrupt Practice: 32
Breach of Confidence: 1
Oppressive Conduct: 1
ALLEGATIONS OF CRIMINAL OFFENCES
Total number of allegations of criminal offences for the period October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015.
Fatal Shooting: 7
Non-fatal Shooting: 4
Causing Death by Dangerous Driving: 1
Assault occ. Actual Bodily Harm: 4
Wounding with intent to do Grievous bodily harm: 3
Assault and Battery: 2
Common Assault: 9
Killing or Wounding Animals: 3
Money Laundering: 1
Grievous Sexual Assault: 1
Sexual Harassment: 1
Serious Indecency: 1
Unlawful and unnecessary use of force:14
Larceny and Related Offences: 16
Malicious Damage: 11
Trespass and Unlawful Entry: 1
Possession of Marijuana: 1
Perverting Course of Justice: 2
Wrongful Arrest: 1
Shooting with Intent: 5
Misbehaviour in Public Office: 11
Dangerous Driving: 1
Domestic Violence: 2
Use of Obscene Language: 4