JIS News

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), Justin Felice, says that he hopes to achieve an honest, upright and clean Jamaica police force in three years.
“Whether that’s achievable within three years I don’t know but, as you have seen, in the first seven months of this year officers are being refused reenlistment. They are not refused reenlistment because we don’t like them, it is because they are not performing to the required standard of the JCF,” ACP Felice says.
“In three years, that figure will be substantially higher, if certain individuals don’t alter their behaviour,” the Assistant Commissioner tells JIS News.
An Anti-Corruption Court, a Special Prosecutor and a state agency to deal specifically with corruption, are three of a number of recommendations which have been proposed to help fight corruption. Stakeholders believe that these measures will go a long way in reducing corruption, particularly in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
In keeping with this approach and in an effort to expedite corruption cases, on January 6, a Special Court commenced the hearing of corruption related cases from the Corporate Area. The Special Court, which operates at Court 4 in the Corporate Area Criminal Court, and the JCF’s three-year Anti-corruption Strategy, has jointly resulted in the removal of a number corrupt officers from the force.
Since the implementation of the strategy in January, 149 police officers have been booted.
The strategic priorities of the three-year anti-corruption strategy are to: restore public safety and confidence; boost the morale and confidence of JCF members and auxiliaries; improve effective internal and external communications.
ACP Felice says the JCF’s 3-year anti-corruption strategy has a three-pronged approach: prevention, education/communication and detection.
He told JIS News that the force is putting a lot of effort into prevention; a process which starts at the recruitment stage and which continues throughout the officer’s life within the JCF.
“It is an important step to minimising the high percentage of officers being arrested and charged for corrupt acts,” he notes.
“Police officers have a lot of power, because it comes with the job they have. Consequently, there are individuals who, at times, try to influence officers to engage in corruption. What we are trying to do is educate the police officers to resist the temptation from members of the public to be corrupt,” ACP Felice explains.
He states that the first place to capture these people is at the training school, when they have just joined the organization.
“A high percentage of the new recruits have first degrees, so they are well educated people,” he noted.
He said that the Anti-Corruption Branch is there to assist police officers, not to tear them down, and plans are underway to fully immerse the three- year strategy into their work.
“There is a promotional exercise going on in the JCF, and this will see officers doing a promotion examination (based) on integrity and ethics, where they will be asked about the three-year strategy. So it is actually going to become a document that people need to be aware of, they need to know what it is. It’s not something that will be placed in a draw to collect dust,” he asserts.
He points out that his job is to ensure that the “good” officers of the JCF can carry out their functions impartially and professionally.
“We are here to help. I know that people don’t see that at times, but we are here to support the good officers of the JCF to do their job,” he insists.
The main component of the preventative measure is a work plan, which will see the implementation of a JCF cleansing programme, resulting in an increased use of polygraphing and vetting. This strategy will be used on officers who have to re-enlisted, to verify information given by the whistleblowers. It is to be developed and extended as a matter of urgency.
According to ACP Felice, individuals can refuse to do the polygraph examination, but must understand that inferences will be drawn from that refusal. Officers in the JCF, from Constable to Inspector, are employed on a 5-year contract so every year about 20% of the force is up for reenlistment.
“What they have to do is apply to the Commissioner of Police to ask for reenlistment. What we are doing in the JCF is, we are looking at the performance and the efficiency of those individuals,” ACP Felice explains.
The JCF anti-corruption strategy states that if there are areas of concern, after the Commissioner examines the files of officers, they are not to be reenlisted. The Commissioner gives them a 12-month contract, instead of a 5-year contract, in an effort to ensure they behave themselves.
Another aspect of the anti-corruption plan which is being developed is a mobile polygraphing unit. This will be used to ensure that a greater number of tests can be conducted without having to travel to Kingston. A programme of random polygraphing is also to be developed in 2011/12.
While prevention is essential, educating members is also a priority of the anti-corruption strategy. This is strand of the strategy seeks to ensure that JCF staff and the public are aware of and are committed to the JCF Anti-Corruption strategy.
ACP Felice states that currently the ACB goes into the training academy and gives lectures and provides officers with handbooks to read. The Force ensures that officers are constantly informed about doing the right thing, and leaders and managers know to manage.
As for the detection strategy, a number of initiatives have been implemented. The latest being the 1-800 corrupt line. Detection is the final of the triangle, and is being used to effectively deal with JCF staff who act corruptly, and those who would seek to corrupt other staff. The Assistant Commissioner says that one of the main aims of the Force is to drive a constant fear of detection into officers.
He said that, as the rigorous campaign continues, persons who are alleged to have acted outside of the law are subject to an investigation. If they are found guilty, they will be prosecuted or retired in the public’s interest.
ACP Felice says the strategy is supported by members of the JCF, and that ‘Champions’ are working assiduously to ensure the process will be effective.
“The staff of the Anti-corruption branch is supported by other members of the JCF; they are dedicated to the success of this strategy. An example is the teaching of ethics and integrity, everyday they do that. It’s a critical part of the modern JCF,” he states.
“Everyone knows that this has to be the number one priority, because unless we show that we are policing this way, we will never get the support from the public,” ACP Felice concludes.
He is urging members of the public to adopt zero tolerance on corruption, as well as refrain from corrupting good police officers. ACP Felice is also encouraging citizens to use the 1800-(Corrupt) 267-7878 line to report acts of corruption.

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