Faulkner renews body-worn camera plea
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has said that despite requests, it has never received footage from body-worn cameras to assist with any of its probes into the actions of agents of the State.
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner made the disclosure at a press conference yesterday as he renewed calls for the devices to become a feature in police and military operations, including those to be carried out by the newly formed joint anti-gang task force.
Launched last week, the anti-gang task force is a collaboration between the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force.
“We trust that body-worn cameras form a prominent feature of the activities, given that the initiatives seem to be about gangs, guns and gunmen. This, we believe, will assist in any investigative steps taken in the event of an incident,” Faulkner said.
According to INDECOM, while conducting probes, its investigators repeatedly ask for footage to no avail because the cameras are not being worn.
The watchdog is recommending that every step be taken to ensure that cameras become part of the general equipment of the operation arm of the security forces.
“We further recommend that common areas of police stations, the walkways, passageways, etc, be equipped with CCTV. Digital images properly captured and extracted provide reliable accounts of incidents and minimise the exclusive reliance on human perception,” Faulkner said.
INDECOM has also made the call for greater administrative efforts to ensure that the lawful possession of persons taken in to custody are documented and retuned on their exit from custody.
“Administratively, any manifestly physical change in the appearance of persons in custody must be documented and enquires made. Where professional intervention is necessary, [it] should be provided and family members notified,” Faulkner said.
INDECOM made this latter suggestion on the heels of a ruling in the investigation surrounding Rastafarian Nzinga King.
King, a 19-year-old woman from Lionel Town in Clarendon, alleged that her dreadlocks were trimmed by a policewoman while in custody at the Four Paths Police Station in Clarendon last year.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn ruled last week that the police corporal implicated in the haircutting incident involving King should not be charged.
INDECOM had also reportedly arrived at a similar opinion.
The DPP had been awaiting a forensic examination report for the three weeks prior to her ruling.
The matter was initially being investigated by the police inspectorate before it was taken over by INDECOM.