Acquitted cops back on job

The six Jamaican policemen recently acquitted of murder in the controversial Kraal case have been reinstated in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, police spokesperson Karl Angell said yesterday.

However, Mr. Angell said the men – all former members of the disbanded Crime Management Unit – will not be reassigned to beat duties until their psychological evaluations are completed by police chaplain, the Rev. Vivian Panton, and the force’s clinical psychologist, George Leveridge.

“They have already started counselling and the chaplain and psychologist will determine, once the period is over, when they can go back on the road,” Mr. Angell told The Gleaner.

The six men are Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams, Corporal Patrick Coke, constables Devon Bernard, Leford Gordon, Roderick Collier and Shane Lyons. They had been charged for the May 7, 2003 killing of Angella Richards, 47; Lowena Thompson, 39; Kirk Gordon and Matthew James, both 29, at a house in the district of Kraal, Clarendon.

Adams said he and his team went there searching for wanted men and were fired on by gunmen. Witnesses disputed this, claiming the four persons were shot in cold blood.

Bernard, Gordon and Collier were freed on December 12 after Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe returned a no-case verdict in the Supreme Court. Eight days later, Adams, Coke and Lyons were found not guilty.

Following his acquittal, Adams proclaimed that he would be back on the streets soon and threatened a full-scale assault on criminals in some of the country’s toughest communities.

But Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas rebuffed his statement, saying Adams and his colleagues would have to undergo psychological revision before they were considered fit for a return to active duty.

Yesterday Rev. Panton was reluctant to give details of the counselling, as he said he did not want to compromise the process. He did say, however, that the sessions have been favourable, with the policemen responding in a satisfactory manner.

“I have set no time frame (for their return to duties). I do not want to tie myself to any time right now because we have just started. I will see how it goes and at the end furnish the commissioner with a report,” said the chaplain.