Jamaica commissioner ignores questions about cold cases
This excellent article in the Jamaica Gleaner by Damion Mitchell is a snapshot of police transparency or lack thereof in the entire region. Reading line-by-line, this well-documented history of questions and the subsequent dodging by [insert public official]; took me back to my own in-vain attempts to have questions answered about the most infamous homicide case in Saint Lucia. Unable to get the Director of Public Prosecutions himself, I phoned his office and was told, like Mr. Mitchell here, to email my list of questions. Never got a response.
In what’s supposed to be representative governments in the region, all too often, the default position of officials of various ranks to questions ,aimed at holding them accountable for the duties they were appointed; is that they don’t need to answer them. Being busy failing at their jobs is far too time-consuming to answer a single pertinent question relating to their job performance. Their default disposition is easy to name, for they hold by their silence, the people they are meant to serve, in contempt.
When Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson holds his press conference today, it will make one year to the day since he publicly promised to respond to a set of questions that sought to probe institutional problems we hear little about in the constabulary he leads.
Here are the questions I posed to Jamaica Police Commissioner Major General Anderson on February 1, 2021 about cold cases and other extremely puzzling cases:
1. Can the High Command provide an update on the number of cold cases now on record and how many are being actively pursued?
2. How many cops will not be re-enlisted as a consequence of their performance assessment?
3. How concerned are you about the slow pace of concluding internal investigations into alleged inappropriate conduct by your members?
4. Can you provide an update on these specific cases that were the subject of internal probes?
- December 2016 – Fourteen-year-old Portmore rape victim transported in the same police car as her alleged offender, who later escaped at the station.
- May 2020 – Mandeville corporal in station brawl with woman inspector.
- October 2020 – Woman turned away from the Constant Spring Police Station after arriving during curfew hours to report an incident of domestic violence.
At that press conference a year ago, the commissioner directed that the questions be sent via email through his communications team and committed to respond.
The email was sent that very day, Monday, February 1, 2021.
After a four-month wait and with no response forthcoming, on June 17, 2021, another email was sent to the communications team.
By the following day, the request was acknowledged by Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, who replied saying she will seek to assist as best as possible.
She noted that even though persons external to the organisation may have an interest in the outcome of an internal investigation, the High Command may not be able to comment on them publicly because they may become the subject of an internal tribunal.
Nonetheless, SSP Lindsay sought to assure that I would be further updated on my requests.
Fast-forward to September 15, 2021, when the commissioner called another press conference.
When it was time for questions, I posed the same ones, by then all of seven months and two weeks old, and handed off a healthy nudge that it was about time that the elephant be delivered since all the ‘documentation’ had been ‘filed’.
It appeared that General Anderson did not even require the nudge.
“I remember,” he interjected, promising that he would respond.
But five months later, not even one word of the promise has been fulfilled.
Damion Mitchell | Frozen in time, Commissioner? Dat mek sense? Jamaica Gleaner