Revised Code of Conduct for Police-Citizens Launched


A revised second edition of the Code of Conduct for Police-Citizen Relations in Jamaica was launched on Tuesday (Feb. 10) by the Inner-City Development Committee of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce at its offices on Duke Street in Kingston.
The revised edition now includes the rights of Citizens and the responsibilities of the police in relation to ‘night noises’, ‘finger printing’ ‘photographing’, ‘motor vehicles and the road code’ and ‘child abuse’.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, in delivering the main address, said that the document highlighted for all Jamaicans, “in the face of levels of criminal violence and crime, which are altogether too high,” that the ultimate solution could be found in mutual trust and respect between police and citizens coupled with shared knowledge of the rights and obligations of each party.
“There can be no future in which there are first class or second class citizens as far as treatment under the law is concerned,” he pointed out, and added that “the rights of every (individual) must be treated with the same respect by every officer”. In this regard, Dr. Phillips said the principle of community policing as the fundamental underpinning of the whole approach to policing had been established and accepted by all members of the force.
Dr. Phillips informed that efforts were being made with help from international partners to make “guard rooms” now termed “reception areas” more accommodating and less intimidating for the average citizens.
Pointing to instances where members of the force had acted outside of the law, he noted that such actions could “rupture” the fundamental commitment to building a solid base of community relations. The Minister, however, stated that in cases where such breaches occurred they would be subjected to the fullest investigations.
Dr. Phillips also said that more had to be done to strengthen the capacity of the independent Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA ), and pointed out that citizens also needed to take advantage of this service.
He further divulged plans for the JCF to establish a new and far-reaching Professional Standards Branch that would among other things, deal with the integrity of all the members of the police force. “Citizens need to have the expectation that they will be dealt with not only fairly but honestly and sincerely by every single member of the security force,” he pointed out.
Dr. Phillips said it was necessary to understand that a new culture of improved relationship between the police and citizenry was being built, a departure from a history that had been “replete with violence one towards another,” that had been incorporated into all aspects of life.
“We are in the process of rupturing this culture of violence that has taken over too many facets of our national life,” he declared. He said change would not be easy but must be pursued with a combined effort and a change in attitude towards the police and social control and unwarranted violence “there is no solution to violence simply through the application of more violence,” Dr. Phillips pointed out.
He warned that persons who persisted in violent behaviour and criminal enterprise would be brought to justice with the appropriate force.
Meanwhile Opposition Spokesman on Justice, Delroy Chuck in his greetings, said improved police-citizen relations were necessary in the fight against crime. He emphasized the importance of community policing inherent to which was mutual trust and understanding.Mr. Chuck pointed out that it was not only important that the rules contained in the booklet be known by both citizens and police alike but that they be followed so as to allow justice to be administered.
He said a clear message must be sent to the criminals across the country that the cooperation between the police and citizenry would allow no leeway for their unlawful activities.
At the same time however, Mr. Chuck added that it was important for police officers to realize that “every single individual in (the) country has rights and obligations and appreciate that he has a duty and an obligation to give respect and dignity to every single individual whether criminal or innocent. Let the law take its course,” Mr. Chuck stated.
In his remarks, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, said it was important that all officers and citizens alike be aware of the contents of the document and consequently their rights. He challenged the media to play their part in disseminating the information.
Speaking on behalf of Commissioner of Police Francis Forbes, Deputy Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas, said the importance of the code of conduct had been realized in the thrust towards improved community relations and consequently the fight against crime, and had been institutionalized to form a part of the syllabus of the promotional examination that members of the force are required to sit.
He said the intention was to have this knowledge displayed on the streets by officers on duty and reinforced the dedication of the Police High Command to engender greater accountability on the part of the police and to improve the quality of the service given by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Chairman of the Inner-City Development Committee, Sameer Younis said the booklets would be disseminated widely and mentioned that it was hoped following future discussions with the Ministry of Education that the code would become a part of the curriculum for secondary and primary schools.
The booklets will be disseminated across the island and will be available for purchase at a cost of $100.
The code was first published in November 2000 following a 1998 workshop held by the Inner-City Development Committee for the leadership of inner-city communities in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas and St. Catherine, where it was discovered that the relationship between members of the security forces and the citizenry was extremely poor and further aggravated by inadequate knowledge of rights on the part of the citizens. It also brought out the need to remind members of the security forces of their professional duties and responsibilities under the law.

JIS Social