KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Some police officers here do not comply with the law but Commissioner of Police Keith Miller says he has zero tolerance for police brutality.
“… because of our community based policing effort, we cannot have any delinquent policeman mashing that up,” said Miller, who in 2010 reinstated three cops who were convicted in the court after beating Jemark Jackson, 15, into a one-week coma in 2008.
Miller comments came while speaking as a guest of a radio talk show last week.
“We operate as a professional organisation, notwithstanding our limitations,” Miller said, adding that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force makes an effort to bring closure to all complaints.
“Our policemen are under strict control. Our policemen are advised in every strict sense. We do not advocate for any level of brutality,” he said.
“We do not advocate for policemen overreaching their authority,” said Miller, who noted that aggrieved persons can seek redress in the courts, the Police Public Relations and Complaints Department, or the Police Oversight Committee.
“And if anyone feels aggrieved, I think they can really lodge their complaint. And believe you me, that matter will be thoroughly investigated,” Miller said.
Miller said that there are police officers who, from time to time, “do not confirm to the law.
“What I would admit is that, from time to time, there are policemen or police women who may not comply with what they are instructed, or what they instruction are or what the rules are or what the regulations are,” he said.
Miller further admitted that the name of the Public Relations and Complaints Department, which was set up in 1999, “may not be appropriate”.
“Persons are saying, ‘Listen, it may be important for you to have strictly a complaints department as opposed to a public relations/complaints [department]. But to me, the department has been working fine since 1999,” said Miller, who was among the first cops to work in that department.
Asked if he really felt that the department was functioning well, Miller told the programme host:
“I must be honest, I think there is a need now for a few additional persons, where we can have then do additional investigation.”
He further said that citizens who have grievances with the police could file a complaint at any police station, which will forward the complaint to the Public Relations and Complaints Department for further investigation.
Asked what percentage of complaint filed by the public result in public or private sanction of his officer, Miller said:
“That percentage depends on the follow up or the follow through with the complainants because there are instances where complainants make reports and they never follow through.”
Miller said that the Police Force is “hard on police brutality” and ensures that matters are investigated and that there is “sanctioning where necessary”.
In defending his decision to reinstate the cops who were convicted of abusing the 15-year-old boy, Miller said:
“Those three men, they were fighters. They are men who would go beyond the call of duty. What happened that night, I believe it happened out of exuberance, in the spirit of wanting to get the job done. They did that prior to that night and they are doing it even more now that they are reinstated.”
Miller also announced during he programme that he had fired the cop who was driving without a licence the uninsured vehicle that killed Steffan Cruickshank, 14, on Dec. 26.