Kingston Gleaner (Newspaper) - March 25, 2012, Kingston, Kingston
A2 THE SUNDAY GLEANER, MARCH 25, 2012 | NEWS
F OR SOME senior police personnel who
face the heat daily, as well as high- profile
sociologists who study cause and effect,
crime fighters are moving in the right direction,
but the deeply entrenched anti- informer culture
reinforces a high level of distrust between the
lawmen and the people. The people will not
pass information to the police for fear that their
names will be linked to the investigations, hence
putting themselves and their families at risk.
A stiff and untenable culture of silence
emanates and this is not uprooted easily. This
culture makes a suspect of everyone living in
some communities. By appearing uncooperative
with the rule of the State, yet acquiescing to the
dictates of the don, residents become party to
criminal activities. The same is true of police
personnel who witness corruption and murder
within their ranks and choose to remain silent.
This culture of complicity – see and blind hear
and deaf – is played out in inner cities. It is also
evident as an unwritten rule in squads within the
police force. Criminality and corruption thrive.
Head of Crime Stop, Prudence Gentles, is of
the view that while public interaction with her
organisation has increased, the ‘ informer fe dead’
culture is alive and kicking. “ Crime Stop has
benefited from increased public assistance as you
can be an informer on the down low,” she said.
Gentles, however, suggests that the crawling
justice system continues to nurture the culture.
“ The chance of a witness being identified in court
cases that are dragged out for years is high. Until
there is improvement in this area, we will not
benefit from an improved police force,” she said.
COPS DON’T HOLD TONGUE
Ayoung woman, who declared that she has nothing
to do with criminality in the south St Andrew
community where she lives, vowed that she would
not tattle on anyone as the same policemen could
not be relied on to hold their tongues. “ A whole
heap of people dead this way,” she charged.
Senior Superintendent of Police Terrence
Bent concedes that lingering distrust and apprehension
among inner- city residents are among
the greatest impediments to improved relations
between the citizenry and the police.
As one of the policemen who have been
caught in the line of fire ( figuratively and
metaphorically) between police and citizens,
Bent would be painfully aware of the challenges
that confront the police as well as citizens.
He was the man saddled with responsibility
for the challenging and tricky West Kingston
Division, in the aftermath of the May 2010
Dr Orville Taylor agrees that there are signs
that the entrenched anti- informer culture is
being rooted out, but there is some way to go.
“ The official ideology of the police is now
community policing, which is not simply about
public relations; it has to be about a totally new
ethos where there is a strong recognition that it
is impossible to police a civilian society without
having the high levels of cooperation with civil
society,” he said.
“ The thrust to community policing is in the
right direction, but it will take time to root out
the entrenchment of the culture,” he stressed.
However, Taylor suggests that the lingering
effects of the Suppression of Crime Act, in which
the police were accorded with added powers to
enter premises without a search warrant, are alive
and well. The law was enacted in the 1970s by the
Michael Manley administration to combat rising
crime of the times and was repealed in the 1990s
by the P. J. Patterson administration.
This is believed to have suppressed free- flowing
communication between police and citizenry,
even after the law was repealed, while the
effects of good training was believed to have
been suppressed on the crime fighters’ part in
favour of heavy- handedness.
For Taylor, the deep- seated results will be difficult
But reputed social worker and member of the
Peace Management Initiative Horace Levy is of
the view that the challenges of anti- informer
culture and police excesses are two entirely different
Levy concedes that while there have been
some improvements, the anti- informer culture
continues to affect the passage of communication
between police and citizenry. “ People are
more open, but it ( police excesses) is separate
and distinct ... . There is no question that people
have covered for dons, but those are quite different
from the many cases of police shooting
people without justification.”
TOO MANY CASES
Citing the Norman Road shooting in which
16- year- old Vanessa Kirkland was killed, Levy
said, “ You don’t kill people for robbery; it is outrageous
and people are angry. This is just one of
too many cases that many poor people have.”
He was critical of Police Commissioner Owen
Ellington for what he described as “ encouraging the
While discordance prevails, human- rights
groups and angry individuals from within and
without troubled communities add their voices
to the din.
But for both the senior policeman and the
sociologist, there appears to be some amount of
harmony in the sentiments being expressed.
“ There have been some improvements but
there is still that level of uncertainty as to the
state’s true capacity to protect individuals from
criminals and that is largely because of ignorance,”
Bent told The Sunday Gleaner .
“ Most persons are not fully aware that the
level of protection granted by the Witness
Protection Programme and in some cases, these
persons do not fall within the category of persons
who can be protected,” Bent stressed.
He sought to produce testimony to the fact that
things are changing for the better even when the
people howl their displeasure at perceived police
excesses. “ If a person is on the roadway and see
a gang with guns and they advise the police, they
would not fall within the group who would be
facilitated by the programme.”
gary. spaulding@ gleanerjm. com
A resident of Denham Town, west Kingston, points out bullet holes on a fence on Charles Street after a police shooting in February.
This file photo shows a mother
twisted in grief after the murder
of her loved one.
The numbers speak
Between 2007 and 2012 the
security forces seized 3,102 illegal
firearms of various types and
48,868 rounds of ammunition
Since 2007, there were numerous
encounters between police
and criminal elements during
which 1,260 civilians were killed.
Over the same period, 62
police personnel were killed on
duty by criminals while another
127 were shot and injured.
They challenged your
imagination, forced you
into action. The Gleaner
Council has again convened.
New faces, new
issues, equally compelling.
Watch for The
Gleaner Council ( Part 2).
Dr Meredith Derby
Dr Adrian Stokes
Ethlyn Norton- Coke
members in the safe use and care of
firearms, but acknowledges that in
recent weeks, the JCF has been
forced to soak up much criticism for
an abnormal increase in civilian
fatalities arising from armed confrontation
with criminal suspects in
a very short period of time.
They also admit that tough questions
are being raised about the
adequacy of our Use of Force
Policy and the extent to which our
frontline members subject their
thoughts and actions to said policy.
The Police High Command says
it accepts that those who criticise
and raise questions or concerns
about the rate of police killings do
so legitimately and identify with
the growing number of citizens
who have set higher standards of
professionalism from their police
GIVING AS GOOD AS THEY GET
Though targeted by the people of
affected communities and humanrights
groups, the police give as
good as they get, as they aim scalding
fury on detractors.
“ There are still some concerns, but
there have been some improvements,”
concedes Senior Superintendent of
Police Terrence Bent.
“ You can look at the number of
persons who are coming forward as
witnesses … the MIT has a good
witness management programme,
involving ID parades, among others
things,” he said.
Notwithstanding, the scenes
remain bloody and brutal. Deaths
have become all too commonplace.
Jamaicans, angered in the past,
now seem numb as grief grips.
Women, children and even the
elderly are not spared in the blazing
gun battles, allegedly between
police and hoodlums.
Naturally, the heart of a nation
broke when 13- year- old Nikita
Cameron was among six persons
cut down in Denham Town less
than a month ago, provoking
screams of anguish and fury.
The accounts of the shrieking
residents contrasted starkly with
the howling defence of the police
when it was brought to the nation’s
attention that more than 21
Jamaicans were killed during
police operations within a month.
The howls of human- rights
groups on one side, INDECOM in
the middle, the police on another
and an aghast public weighing in
had hardly fizzled when an elderly
woman died in Cassava Piece,
allegedly at the hands of the
police’s blazing guns.
The killing of 16- year- old
Vanessa Kirkland, student of
Immaculate Conception High, of
Greenwich Farm, and the injuring
of a 14- year- old girl who attends
Norman Manley High School, also
in St Andrew, days later, left the
nation speechless as people wondered
just who are the protectors –
the police or the gunmen?
reconvenes ‘ SEE AND BLIND! HEAR AND DEAF!’
SECRET of the
CONTINUED FROM A1
A resident protests the police killing of six people in Denham Town earlier this year.
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