Jamaica’s top cop retires suddenly
KINGSTON – Police Commissioner Owen Ellington’s decision to retire sent shockwaves across the island yesterday. But none were more surprised than his top ranking officers with whom he had his weekly Monday morning Executive Management Board (EMB) meeting without uttering a word about his plan.
It was after the EMB meeting that Ellington met with his deputy commissioners — Glenmore Hinds (Operations); Carl Williams (Crime); Delworth Heath (Inspector General); Clifford Blake (Administration) and James Golding, the former Commandant of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) who became a deputy commissioner after the recent merger of the ISCF and the JCF — and informed them of his decision.
Yesterday, the national security ministry said Ellington indicated that he would retire from his post on completion of his vacation leave which starts today.
“Commissioner Ellington has indicated that his decision to retire is based on the need to separate himself from the leadership and management of the force prior to the commencement of the upcoming Commission of Enquiry into the conduct of the operations of the security forces in Western Kingston and other areas during the limited State of Emergency in 2010,” the ministry said in a news release.
“In addition, he believes it will allow the Independent Commission of Investigations, (INDECOM) to conduct its investigation into allegations of police-involved killings in the Clarendon Division (some of which occurred during his tenure) without any perception of influence or interference on his part,” the ministry added.
The ministry said that Hinds has been appointed to act as commissioner, effective today, while the Police Service Commission (PSC) commences the process of appointing a successor.
Ellington, who has held the post since May 10, 2010, leaves the JCF on a high note with murders down by 45 based on the year-to-date statistics and a reduction of 16.9 per cent when the month of June is compared with last year. The year-to-date murder aggregate stands at 491 compared with 536 for the same period last year.
During his tenure, the country saw a significant decrease in murders. In 2010, the murder toll dropped to 1,442 from 1,683 in 2009. In 2011 a total of 1,132 murders were reported, while in 2012 the number stood at 1,097. However, the following year the number increased to 1,300.
Yesterday, the question on the lips of members of the JCF and most citizens was who will replace Ellington.
The PSC will have to first advertise the position, after which candidates are interviewed, a selection is made and sent to the governor general for his approval.
The successor will probably come from the pool of officers who form the commissioned ranks of deputy and assistant commissioners. Ellington was an assistant commissioner when he took over, although he acted in the rank of deputy commissioner. There is also the possibility of non-JCF personnel being considered, as anyone meeting the stated requirements of the PSC can apply for the job.
Hinds is the longest-serving deputy at the moment. In fact, today (July 1) marks his fourth year in that post. He is well-loved inside and outside of the constabulary for his quiet personality and his ability to get the job done.
Williams, when he became an assistant commissioner, was one of the youngest-serving members of the JCF to do so. He has spent quite a long period studying abroad and it is understood that he is now writing his doctoral dissertation. Despite his long periods of study, Williams came through the system and was once in charge of Police Area 5, which comprises the divisions of St Catherine North and South, St Andrew North and St Thomas.
Blake, like Williams, was recently appointed a deputy commissioner. He is well-known in the force as a stickler for discipline, so it was not surprising when he was put in charge of the JCF’s administration portfolio following the retirement of Jevene Bent. Blake, too, has risen quickly through the ranks. He was once in charge of Police Area 1, which includes the Divisions of Westmoreland, Hanover, St James and Trelawny.
Golding is an interesting possible replacement for Ellington. He is also a strong disciplinarian whose strength lies in his operational capabilities. Golding ran a very tight ship when he was in charge of the ISCF.
There is seemingly no noticeable candidate for the job from the assistant commissioner rank.