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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 Tivoli incursion. 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 to eradicate. 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 issues. 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 issue”. 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 FILE PHOTOS 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 from criminals.  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). Joe Matalon Winston Butler Beverly Lopez Dr Meredith Derby Cathy Lyn 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 service. 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. CONTRASTING ACCOUNTS 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? Gleaner Council reconvenes ‘ SEE AND BLIND! HEAR AND DEAF!’ INNER CITY SECRET of the The GRIEF CONTINUED FROM A1 A resident protests the police killing of six people in Denham Town earlier this year. 24 3 12 3 9 4 8 2 8 5 3 3 2 3 4 27 7 23 3 3 12 22 25 26 $ 800,000 1 Winner $ 800,000 51 Winners $ 1,521 ea. 1,522 Winners $ 92 ea. 1 9 3 0 18 21 24 15 0 1 6 2 1 0 3 8 7 5 0 0 3 13 3 33 24 03 12 1 3 17 29 32 36 5 1 winner $ 80,000,000 1 winner $ 389,626 25 winners $ 9,363 ea. 2 1,092 winners $ 373 ea. 11,270 winners $ 51 ea. $ 15,000,000 23 3 12 15 25 27 32 35 9 SEE TODAY’S PAPER FOR DETAILS 1, 2 ,3, 6, 10, 11, 14, 29, 31, 33, 34, 36 1, 5, 6, 13, 16, 18, 22, 25, 31, 32, 33, 34 ;