Kennard restates need for own investigators to probe cop complaints
By Patrick Denny
February 25, 2003
After almost a year as chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), Justice Cecil Kennard is even more convinced that the PCA needs its own investigation unit.
Justice Kennard, who until early last year was Chancellor of the Judiciary and who early in his career was Legal Adviser to the Police told Stabroek News that he would in his report to the parliament, press the need for the establishment of such a unit based on the lines of the one provided for in the legislation that established the PCA in Jamaica.
He said that in addition to the widely held perception that the Police protect their own, the investigations take a long time and it was frustrating to have to tell the complainants that he was awaiting the findings of the Police.
Both President Bharrat Jagdeo and Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj have promised to implement measures to strengthen the PCA.
Justice Kennard told Stabroek News that his office received some 125 written complaints last year in addition to the ones made orally to his office and which were resolved by a call to the Divisional Commanders or the officers in charge of the stations.
Of the 125 complaints, Kennard said that 22 related to allegations about the use of unnecessary force which resulted in death or serious injury and which were, or are, being investigated by the Police.
He recalled that in the case of Shaka Blair, he had recommended that an inquest be held. Blairís death at the hands of the Target Special Squad (TSS) last year sparked a wave of criminal activity targeting Policemen.
In the case of a boy, Vincent Griffith, who lost his leg after being shot by a police officer in New Amsterdam during the search of a house, Justice Kennard said that he recommended that Griffith be compensated and observed that the officer who shot him was lucky to have escaped criminal prosecution. Griffith, according to the police had been in a wardrobe hiding at the time he was shot.
In the case of Georgetown resident Brian King, Justice Kennard said that in his comments to the DPP he indicated that it was not necessary for King to have been shot in his mouth by the police. King died from his injuries.
Justice Kennard also said that a number of the complaints he received were referred to the Commissioner for disciplinary action and these included three allegations related to corrupt practices and five where officers incurred debts and had made no effort to liquidate them.
Some of the other complaints received by the PCA, Justice Kennard said included 50 allegations of neglect of duty, two for wrongful seizure and four for behaviour likely to bring the Police Force into disrepute, one related to illegal search and four related to allegations of harassment. The other complaints covered allegations of unlawful exercise of authority, improper conduct and wanton incivility to the public and are among those he referred to the Commissioner for action.