Tivoli cop rides west
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Donovan Graham, one of the senior police officers the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry report said should be barred from participating in internal security operations, will take over the reins of Area One starting tomorrow.
Graham was the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) ground commander for the Tivoli operations, which left 70 civilians dead when security forces went in search of fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
Commissioner of Police George Quallo has announced a major shake-up in the leadership of the police force and has withdrawn ACP Warren Clarke from the western region.
Clarke's replacement, ACP Graham, was among a number of high-ranking members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) singled out in the report.
The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, which was held to investigate the conduct of the May 2010 operations in the west Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens, has found that police personnel may have engaged in extrajudicial killings.
"Where the accusations of extrajudicial killings on the part of the security forces were found by this commission to be credible, and where persons were identified as being in dereliction of duty or were administratively or operationally incompetent, we recommend that these persons should never again be allowed to lead or otherwise participate in internal security operations," the report said.
Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry says she is alarmed at the transfer of Graham to head Area One, despite the move being a lateral one, as he is being transferred from Area Three, which covers St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon.
"It is of deep concern. We have been watching this play out over time," she said.
"It is our understanding that once you're ACP and you are in charge of the area ..., you are the head of the hierchary and you have to give approval to those operations," Harrison Henry told the WESTERN STAR.
Area One covers the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland. The statistics further indicate that the majority of the assorted rounds of ammunition seized (4,015 rounds) for the period, 51 per cent, came from Area One, which comprises Hanover, St James, Trelawny and Westmoreland.
Police statistics have revealed that since January, the lawmen have seized 449 guns and 7,899 rounds of ammunition in the country. St James alone accounted for 44 per cent (3,476 rounds) of the bullets seized in the country.
RUNAWAY MURDER TOLLS
St James and Hanover have been recording runaway murder tolls since this year, prompting speculation that those parishes could be subjected to intense policing under a new anti-crime measure that will soon be implemented.
The attorney for Jamaicans for Justice, John Clarke, said the human-rights group is also concerned that a commission of Parliament would have made such a serious recommendation and the JCF has seemingly ignored it.
"For transparency and to ensure that everybody is on the same page, we would call on the commissioner of police to reveal the basis for ignoring a clear written recommendation of the commission," Clarke said.
"The JCF said that they would have done an internal administrative review in relation to the recommendations that were made. We would like to think that as a part of their administrative review, the JCF has some good grounds for doing what would essentially amount to ignoring the recommendation of the commission of enquiry," he added.