POLICE POLITICS?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for me analyze the details of the Bicknell/Forbes/Vaz cass-cass.

I don’t comment on the facts of cases pending before Jamaican courts.  After a decision is made, I may critique.  Otherwise, my comments are restricted to general legal principles.  None arise in this molehill-to-mountain comedy.

I’m concerned more with the police force’s odd behaviour than the contested facts.  One undisputed factual allegation is that Johnny-on-the-spot, Jubert Llewelyn, in a quandary, consulted former Commissioner Lucius Thomas for advice.  Why?  Were there no current senior officers he felt he could’ve consulted?  Why didn’t he consult the present Commissioner?

What’s the protocol?  Ought a former Commissioner to “advise” a current Police Sergeant on a pending issue without permission from the current Commissioner?  Since Former Commissioner Thomas hasn’t been charged with any offence, it must be the police have investigated and confirmed the propriety of his involvement. Did he ask permission?  From whom?

On August 22, the Gleaner reported Commissioner Ellington issued a statement the night before:

          “In a release last night Commissioner Ellington said he was hoping for               an early trial so that SSP Forbes will get an opportunity to have his              say in court.

           He also noted that SSP Forbes is a prominent member of the Jamaica              Constabulary Force who commands tremendous respect from his              colleagues and the general public.

           However, Commissioner Ellington said he accepts the ruling of the                   Director of Public Prosecution and has every confidence in the justice                     system.

Three things about this are significant.  Firstly, the Gleaner reported the release came from Commissioner Ellington himself.  Secondly, the statement was issued before any charges were laid.  Thirdly the statement is unambiguously slanted in SSP Forbes’ favour. Why do I say this?

  1. The Commissioner doesn’t express hope that the law runs its course or that justice is done.  His hope is “that SSP Forbes will get an opportunity to have his say in court.”  Every accused citizen has this opportunity.  Why does he want to express this hope for one of three accuseds; one of two opposing police litigants;
  2. The Commissioner ensured we got the message by continuing “He also noted that SSP Forbes is a prominent member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who commands tremendous respect from his colleagues and the general public.” Again, why single out SSP Forbes for personal praise?  Does Sergeant Llewelyn not command respect?
  3. Finally, his grudging acceptance of “the ruling of the [DPP]” specifically prefaced by the word “however” makes it appear this Commissioner is unhappy with that ruling.
  4. The Statement as a whole leads to the inescapable inference that the Commissioner’s “confidence in the justice system” is a confidence that SSP Forbes will be vindicated.

Why should the Commissioner be in such a hurry to publicly support his Senior Superintendent that he issues a statement in the dead of night BEFORE charges are laid?  Coming, as this does, so soon after his unprofessional anxiety to label a PNP Deputy Mayor as a Lotto scammer when subsequent events established his keystone kops had no evidence of that, we must begin to question this police commissioner’s motives.  Why did he feel it necessary to state that he has no interest in the matter?  Nobody said he did.

The Prosecution says the Commissioner was asked to give a Statement.  Once again, the Police Commissioner rushed to respond publicly:

In a statement this afternoon, the commissioner said he is aware of comments made……by [Deputy DPP], Dirk Harrison, concerning an outstanding statement……

But Commissioner Ellington says neither the office of the [Deputy DPP] nor the investigator in this matter has requested a statement from him.

But the Prosecutor isn’t reported to have said who asked the Commissioner for a Statement.  Why does the Commissioner build up specific straw men and blow them down?  Did anybody else ask him for a statement?

And all this is compounded by the unprofessional show of solidarity for SSP Forbes who is escorted to court by a band of police brethren making it clear to the Magistrate who they favour.  Meanwhile, media workers are deluged with reasons why Sgt Llewelyn might carry malice against SSP Forbes.  Are senior police officers trying to influence the case’s outcome? 

Then, Sgt Llewelyn himself sat down with Police Federation representatives to give a video interview to the Gleaner.   Although otherwise hyped, Llewelyn only said he was abiding by Federation directives.  Still, a material crown witness oughn’t to give interviews concerning pending court proceedings.  This isn’t justice.

Peace and Love

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One Response to “POLICE POLITICS?”

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