120 assault complaints made against police
One hundred and twenty assault complaints were made against 137 police officers up to October, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney.
McCartney said 66 investigations into these matters have been closed, which represents a 55 percent closure rate for the year.
For the entire 2010, there were 201 assault complaints against police.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday, McCartney indicated that complaints made against officers are taken “very, very seriously” and the 21 staff members operating from the police Complaints and Corruptions Unit in New Providence and Grand Bahama are dedicated to processing those complaints year-round.
Fifteen officers have been dismissed for the year, according to McCartney.
He said 12 officers were dismissed in 2010.
McCartney explained that officers were dismissed in the majority of matters for “serious offenses”, including criminal charges, convictions and substance abuse.
McCartney said the majority of officers do an excellent job under the circumstances they work in, which often are hostile environments where those officers have to exercise “great restraint”.
He insisted that all complaints are given immediate attention and matters where there is evidence of physical assault are given priority.
“As soon as you make that complaint or you go to the Complaints and Corruptions Unit we try to take a statement from you right then and there and so, for the most part, you’re dealt with almost immediately in terms of at least lodging your official complaint,” McCartney said.
“Every case is treated with the seriousness it deserves, but of course you know with a limited staff and the number of complaints that may come in, [those] may result in some delays in it being investigated right away.”
The deputy commissioner admitted that feedback is not given to members of the public who file allegations against officers as frequently as he wishes, but he said the Complaints and Corruptions Unit will be able to facilitate more regular feedback in the near future.
“In terms of how long the investigation takes, [that] depends on the nature of the investigation [because] it may be a simple case where there are one or two witnesses and we can see them rather quickly; but if it’s an involved investigation where we have to find witnesses and try and locate persons who may have any information to share on that case, it can take some time,” McCartney said.