A Brief Look At Police-Citizen Relations In Jamaica


The issue of police-citizen relations in Jamaica is never far from the headlines, what with numerous allegations of extra-judicial killings and other instances of brutality. Occasionally, we do see a positive headline or two about police-citizen interactions, but these tend to be few and far between. With each negative headline comes the calls from various persons in authority, the clergy and average Jamaicans for the need to rebuild trust between both parties as a good relationship is crucial to crime-fighting efforts.

It is once again in the news following the death of Montego Bay resident Mario Deane, who died while in police custody at the Barnett Street Police Station. Two other inmates have been charged with the murder, but the police’s handling of the case has been called into question as neither Deane nor one of the accused, Marvin Orr, who was later allegedly beaten by other inmates, seemed to have received sufficient protection.

For Monday Musings this week, we look at the Code of Conduct for Police-Citizen Relations in Jamaica. This Code of Conduct has been developed by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce for the guidance of citizens and members of the security forces in Jamaica. Its purpose is to ensure that appropriate conduct and behavior guide all interactions between citizens and members of the security forces. Here are some of the questions addressed in the Code of Conduct:

Citizen questions

  1. What Do I Do When I Am Approached By The Police?
  2. What Are My Rights & Responsibilities When My Premises Are Being Searched?
  3. What Should I Do If I Am Being Questioned, Searched And/Or Apprehended?
  4. What Must I Do If I Am Being Charged?
  5. If I Am Arrested, How Do I Get Bail?
  6. What Are My Rights & Responsibilities In Respect Of Driving A Motor Vehicle?
  7. What Should I Do When Driving & Asked By The Police To Stop?
  8. What If I Have Been Mistreated Or Had My Rights Abused By The Police?

Police questions

  1. What Do I Do When I Am Approaching A Citizen?
  2. What Are My Rights & Responsibilities When Searching A Citizen’s Premises?
  3. When Should I Recommend Station Bail?
  4. When May I Use Force?
  5. What Are My Rights In Respect Of Seizing A Motor Vehicle?
  6. How Should I Deal With The Driving Public When I Ask That They Stop Their Vehicles?

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