The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has spent upwards of $5 million to renovate facilities at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine to accommodate the Polygraph Unit's central operations.
This move forms part of JCF's plans to decentralise the operations of its Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), which has portfolio responsibility for the Unit, informed Assistant Commissioner of Police, Justin Felice, at a media briefing at the Police Officers' Club, Hope Road, St. Andrew, last week.
ACP Felice, who has responsibility for the ACB, said that further work will be done to transform the facility into a centre of excellence for training in the use of polygraph applications in the Caribbean.
"So we will be expanding the new building at the academy, hopefully putting in lecture rooms, (and) more interview suites. Then, students from around the Caribbean (can come) to Jamaica (for training), because we are leading the Caribbean in the use of polygraph examinations," he stated.
ACP Felice said the decision to decentralise the ACB's administrative operations is based on the fact that there are "a lot of problems.in other places in the island".
"So we have (recently) acquired a new accommodation near the Area One Police headquarters in Montego Bay and we are hoping to get some work done to try and renovate that building to make sure that we've got a presence in Montego Bay," he informed.
The ACB's web site, which ACP Felice said was launched on Anti-Corruption Day, December 9, is also expected to go a far way in enhancing the unit's work. He informed that the site's contents will include information of the ACB strategies and policies, the unit's performance reports, as well as contact details such as e-mail and postal addresses, and telephone numbers, including the 1-800-CORRUPT toll-free line.
"We need to be transparent, we need to be accountable, so we will put on there, as much information as possible, so that you can see what we are doing in the JCF, to try and make (it) a better place for the people of Jamaica," he stated. The web site can be viewed at www.acb.gov.jm.
Additionally, ACP Felice said the site will have links to the National Integrity Action Forum (NAIF), and other organisations that assist in the fight against corruption.
The NAIF is a two-year project launched in 2009 by the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Centre for Leadership and Governance, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Based at the UWI's Mona campus, St. Andrew, the NAIF is a multi-agency network that brings together leaders and stakeholders of the public and private sectors and civil society, to ensure more effective outcomes in Jamaica's fight against corruption.
Its membership includes: the Chief Justice; Director of Public Prosecutions; Head of the Anti-Corruption Branch; Contractor General; Auditor General; Director General, Inland Revenue; Commissioner of Customs; Director, Financial Investigation Division (FID); and the Presidents of the Jamaica Bar Association, and Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). UWI Professor, Dr. Trevor Munroe, serves as Director.
Regarding the newly established Ethics Committee, ACP Felice disclosed that plans are underway to expand its work initiative in 2011.
The Committee, which examines police officers' ethics and standards, prior to any promotion within the JCF, is currently assessing some 60 candidates interviewed this year for promotions to the ranks of Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Senior Superintendent and Superintendent of Police.
ACP Felice told journalists that during an NAIF meeting on December 9, stakeholders discussed matters pertaining to police officers and other individuals in the JCF deemed to have a conflict of interest as regards their jobs.
"Some of those officers, who we think have a conflict of interest with outside work, will be invited to the Ethics Committee to explain to us what they are doing, (whether) they got permission, (and if) there is a conflict of interest. The Ethics Committee can (then) make recommendations to the (Police) Commissioner as to whether there should be (action) like a criminal investigation, discipline, etcetera," he explained.
ACP Felice also informed of the JCF's plans to host an Anti-Corruption Conference between February 22 and 24, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"We have decided that Jamaica, once again, needs to take the lead, and we are going to be inviting all of our colleagues from around the Caribbean.it will be a CARICOM conference. We want to make sure that what we are doing in Jamaica can be spread across the rest of the Caribbean, and also that . we can learn from what are they doing. We will do (is) we will put the details on our web site to make sure that we are moving ahead together," ACP Felice said.