Calls for independent police complaints body

Police form a human barricade at All Saints Magistrate’s Court as the four murder-accused officers arrive while protestors gathered outside the court house in what has become one of the most high profile cases in recent history. (Photo by Shamoy Malone)
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By Latrishka Thomas

“Police ought not to be investigating the police,” says one attorney, whose comments were backed by a former police commissioner.

Lawyer Warren Cassell and former Commissioner of Police, Vere Browne, while speaking on Observer’s Big Issues programme on Sunday, called for the establishment of an independent police complaints commission to oversee investigations into alleged wrongdoing by officers.

As the men conferred about matters relating to police brutality, Cassell argued the importance of having an impartial adjudicator, saying that “often times, those investigations go nowhere”.

“I believe that every single case brought against police officers, in an internal investigation where it does not involve a magistrate … can be challenged as not being independent,” he continued.

Browne also said an independent body would help to increase public confidence in the police complaints system.

Vere said that his years of experience have made him passionate about the creation of such a body.

“Whenever anything happens, you want that investigation to be fair and just,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, former Defence Force Captain, Lenroy Browne, lobbied for the creation of a campaign aimed at sensitising the public about their rights and laws pertaining to arrests.

“I hope that we can put a campaign together to educate the public as to their rights, the rights of the police officers…appropriate behaviour while executing their duties,” he stated.

Former Assistant Commissioner, Nuffield Burnett, on the other hand, emphasised the importance of proper training for law enforcement officials.

He said that although “you can’t go taking the powers from them…what you need to do is to be so trained that you are able to balance your service with how you keep your public in line.”

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