JFJ Press Release: JFJ Calls for the Resignation of Commissioner Owen Ellington

JFJ Calls for the Resignation of Commissioner Owen Ellington

 Thursday, November 21, 2013, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is calling for the resignation of the Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington. Commissioner Ellington has failed to keep the murder rate under control; he has failed to improve the police clear-up rate for murder; he has presided over the highest cumulative rate of police fatal shootings ever seen in Jamaica.  It is time for him to go.

In the past year the rate of fatal shootings has been significantly above that of last year and we have seen three months in which more than one person a day was killed by police, culminating in the killing of 36 persons by the police in the month of October.  Far too many of these killings occur in circumstances which suggest extra-judicial killings by police including; the killing of Kavorn Shue in Mountain View and of Tenisha Hamilton in Morant Bay in 2012; and the killing of Neville Boyd in June and Romarco Wilson in October of 2013.  These are just a few of the over 400 persons killed by police since the start of 2012.  Now, even more also troubling are the reports of the beating to death of a teenage boy, Ashanie Clarke, in Sandy Bay, and the grievous injury inflicted on another by policemen because they refused to stop at a police check point.  This follows the unconscionable brain injury inflicted on Kamoza Clarke, again by policemen, while he was in their custody.

The failure to control the brutality of the men under his command, and the failure to reduce the rate of fatal police shootings by proper planning and control of operation are unacceptable.   We hear no new solutions for this unacceptable use of force by his men coming out of the Commissioner and his weekly bulletins to those he lead about human rights and the proper use of force are perfunctory.   This failure to ensure accountability for the use of force by members of the JCF, by itself warrants the resignation of Commissioner Ellington.

In addition,Commissioner Ellington has failed to bring about a sustained reduction in the murder rate, which as predicted by many analysts, has begun an increase after the reductions that followed the extradition of Christopher Coke, because no strategic improvements in crime prevention or community-based policing have taken place under his leadership over the past three years.  The Commissioner, and successive Governments, were warned that the ‘mano duro’ tactics being employed by Mr. Ellington and his men, COULD NOT produce sustainable reductions in crime.

Mr. Ellington has also been unable during his tenure to improve either the ‘cleared up’ or conviction rates for serious crimes.  The cleared up rate for serious crimes under the leadership of Mr. Ellington has never exceeded 38% and the cleared up rate for murders is falling from a high of 31% in 2011 to the present 28% up to the end of September 2013.  This is unacceptable and a serious indictment on his leadership.

Mr.Ellington’s failures display either a lack of will or competence to handle the challenging monster of crime and they inspire no confidence in his leadership or ability going forward.  Police leaders who continue to disregard the fundamental rights of Jamaicans have no place in the force. The fact that several years after bring at the helm the Commissioner has been unable to have success in taming the crime monster and the brutality of some of the police under his command, and unable to reassure Jamaicans that a better day is coming would indicate that the time has come for him to go. Commissioner Ellington needs to hold himself accountable for his failings, do the honourable thing and tender his resignation to the Police Services Commission.

It is time for the Government to move swiftly to appoint someone with the requisite skills, competence and crime prevention know how, to restore a sense of confidence in the hope for the return of the rule of law to Jamaica.