Sergeant Cecil McCalla
The Police Federation has issued a warning to the Government that it must foot the legal costs of its challenge against INDECOM's decision to seek to have the UK based Privy Council declare whether it has the power to arrest and prosecute cops.
On March 16, the Appeal Court ruled that INDECOM did not have this power. Following the ruling, INDECOM decided to seek leave to bring the matter to the Privy Council.
However, on Wednesday, Sergeant Cecil McCalla, Chairman of the Police Federation, warned that the police force could not afford to foot another legal bill.
Speaking at the group's 75th annual Joint Central Conference in St. Ann, Sergeant McCalla lamented that the Federation, with the assistance of other police groups, were the only ones willing to challenge the INDECOM Act at great financial cost - a situation which he said almost brought the groups into disrepute.
"So this time around, minister, this one is on you," he declared.
INDECOM's application to the Appeal Court seeking permission to take the case to the Privy Council is to be heard next month.
Turning to the Federation's grouse with INDECOM's handling of cases, Sergeant McCalla called for his colleagues to make the entity irrelevant by stepping up their performance.
"Put INDECOM out of business by being so professional when carrying out our duties, by being so careful when constructing our statements and reports, that (there is) no use for you to be charged," he suggested.
Sergeant McCalla also lambasted the Government for the poor condition of police stations across the island.
The Police Federation chairman declared that cops were operating with 19th century infrastructure.
He noted previous comments made by National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang, who was in attendance at the conference, that successive administrations have failed to give the necessary support to the JCF.
To raucous applause, Sergeant McCalla delivered a message to Prime Minister Andrew Holness: "You cyah run campaign organisation pon bag juice budget," he declared.
Citing the police book of rules, he noted that officers were prohibited from soliticing funds, but that this had become the norm since officers had to be begging in communities "like mendicants" for donations to help fix police stations.
Sergeant McCalla urged the government to do more, noting that this situation cannot continue.
National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang has responded, saying conditions at some police stations have left him feeling embarassed as a Government Minister.
Dr. Chang added that while the Police Federation's comment about lack of resources elicited laughter, it was a serious matter.
"It's a very emotional point, but the reality is unless the police force is given the training, is given the organisation, the management structure and the resources to deal with the level of public disorder and criminality in the country, then in the old Jamaican saying, we giving a group of dedicated people a basket to carry water, and it will fail," he asserted.