Police accused of wearing masks at ‘stop and search’ ‘routines’

Police tactics under complaint scrutiny

During this past week, an investigation has been launched into allegations made initially on social media, and accordinly from direct complaints about the approach taken by Officers while conducting stop and search procedures, here.

It is alleged that some officers of the RMPS, have been taking an aggressive approach when conducting stop & search activities. Some persons also claim that officers have been wearing facemasks, while carrying out these activities, and were not wearing ‘police’ uniform.  

Following now, is our first knowledge of the ongoing situation which is not from Social media, but as indicated.

Around the middle of the month our attention was drawn to an article by a colleague Jeevan A. Robinson – MNI Media | Date: 15 September 2019 – Montserrat | What is Happening at the RMPS? MNI Media Writes an Open Letter to the Gentlemen In Charge of the Royal Montserrat Police Service

It is further understood that names and identification as to who these Officers were, was refused when requested, Robinson said.

He continued that “The purpose of MNI’s open letter to you both today, as the two in charge of the RMPS, is not to offer condemnation; as I am almost certain that the aims of your role are to ensure that the island is served efficiently and appropriately by the Officers that make up the Police Service on Montserrat. However, MNI is sure you both are aware of recent instances where members of the public have been voicing openly, via social media, their concerns over the treatment they have experienced when interacting with some your Officers.

The article drew attention to a specific post on Facebook which we followed and found as follows: Trevon M Pollard 

September 15 at 1:45 AM · 

“Moments ago I was attacked by Four police officers Two from the previous batch released from the Montserrat Police Service and Two from the recent one all wearing dark clothing, except one in uniform they used indecent language, some threatening language such as you better watch yourself, you do not know what you have done , one also said Karma is a bitch, on not finding anything in my car they tried all kind of ploys to get me to attack one of them . One recruit as I was leaving threw himself on the bonnet of my car to say, “you want to knock me down that is assaulting an officer.” I am calling on the powers that be to take the necessary course of Justice as I made a formal report minutes ago.”

The MNIMedia editor in his article reported that he checked, as most journalists are expected to with stories that appear on social media, with Pollard.

He continued in his articled ‘open letter’, “It is known that factually the RMPS do conduct stop and search on members of the public. You have a job to do and that is understandable.

On the night Mr. Pollard was stopped and searched, it is understood that he was informed that he was suspected of having Cannabis (marijuana) in his possession. 

However, is it standard practice that RMPS Officers pull over citizens wearing face masks? Are these standard issue gear for your Officers? 

Is it also standard issue that your RMPS Officers should be wearing studded gloves that can inflict undue harm whether intentionally or unintentionally on members of the public with whom they come into contact?

Rastas marching up goverment headquaters

See the full article at: http://www.mnialive.com/articles/what-is-happening-at-the-rmps-mni-media-writes-an-open-letter-to-the-gentlemen-in-charge-of-the-roya

The information that came from this was shocking enough and got us all here asking questions with ZJBNews also picking up on the story and reporting later.

What we discovered was even more surprising particularly that before and after the Commissioner reacted on ZJB radio there have been similar and worse complaints before, regarding the conduct of the police with the public in fairly recent times. We were surprised to learn that several of these complaints had been made to the police before that which caused the media to call for answers.

One returning and visiting Montserratian woman complained of being aggressively hustled out of her car and accused of having too many persons in the car, never knowing whether these were indeed police. She did launch a complaint but was too shaken to ask for IDs etc or names of the person carrying out the stop. Another woman complained of being harassed having been stopped three times within a short space of time and asked the same question even after she had complied by taking her driver’s license and registration records to the police station, the first-time round.

Some similar complaints from persons who have been accosted by who they realise are police officers, later, sometimes after skirmishes or unpleasant exchanges with who they discover were police officers, wearing masks. The police were often, mostly in plain clothes and there was at least one person who said that there was in one instance an officer in uniform, but who hid initially, making identification of the alleged police officers.

The Commissioner when challenged with the issue initially was cautious but spent much time explaining the police functions require them in carrying out their protection of the law to behave in a certain way, that is in keeping with the law, pointing out that no one is above the law. Eventually on the matter of the masks, he said that they are not part of the police kit.  Later speaking with ‘Basil on the Breakfast show’ last Friday, he reported that an internal investigation is on the way. He requested that persons with evidence of the same experience to contact ‘the police, through whatever means they chose.

We discovered that several persons who experienced the ‘stop and search’ accompanied by reportedly unusual and aggressive behaviour, even suffered loss.

Some persons claiming themselves to be members of the Rastafarian community who gather around the Carrs Bay area in Montserrat, also complained that the police had been behaving improperly, impose and trespass on their constitutional rights.

Hearing little and fearing no positive response following their complaints they were eventually moved to protest, launching a march today, which was being planned since Wednesday, to the Governor’s office, with placards and chants: “Police in masks? Terrorists! What we need? Justice! And who are we? Rastafari!

Outside the Governor’s office, spokesperson Karen Allen with whom I had spoken the Wednesday, spoke briefly pointing out the concerns centering around how they feel their constitutional rights have been abused. There they requested and met with the Governor and the Police Commissioner.

At the Governor’s press meet on the Wednesday 26th, we raised the issue of the recent complaints of the unconventional activities and behaviour of the police and the discomfort and distrust the public was beginning to express. With time running out, he responded that he had great confidence in the Police Commissioner who he said was handling the situation as described earlier. He startled us however, that regards to the masks, denying the allegations, “there were no masks he said, they were police gear…”

We will update this report as to the outcome of the Rastas’ protest march which included one of the stops and search victims who lost property, and the subsequent meeting with Governor Pearce and Commissioner Foster.

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Police tactics under complaint scrutiny

During this past week, an investigation has been launched into allegations made initially on social media, and accordinly from direct complaints about the approach taken by Officers while conducting stop and search procedures, here.

It is alleged that some officers of the RMPS, have been taking an aggressive approach when conducting stop & search activities. Some persons also claim that officers have been wearing facemasks, while carrying out these activities, and were not wearing ‘police’ uniform.  

Insert Ads Here

Following now, is our first knowledge of the ongoing situation which is not from Social media, but as indicated.

Around the middle of the month our attention was drawn to an article by a colleague Jeevan A. Robinson – MNI Media | Date: 15 September 2019 – Montserrat | What is Happening at the RMPS? MNI Media Writes an Open Letter to the Gentlemen In Charge of the Royal Montserrat Police Service

It is further understood that names and identification as to who these Officers were, was refused when requested, Robinson said.

He continued that “The purpose of MNI’s open letter to you both today, as the two in charge of the RMPS, is not to offer condemnation; as I am almost certain that the aims of your role are to ensure that the island is served efficiently and appropriately by the Officers that make up the Police Service on Montserrat. However, MNI is sure you both are aware of recent instances where members of the public have been voicing openly, via social media, their concerns over the treatment they have experienced when interacting with some your Officers.

The article drew attention to a specific post on Facebook which we followed and found as follows: Trevon M Pollard 

September 15 at 1:45 AM · 

“Moments ago I was attacked by Four police officers Two from the previous batch released from the Montserrat Police Service and Two from the recent one all wearing dark clothing, except one in uniform they used indecent language, some threatening language such as you better watch yourself, you do not know what you have done , one also said Karma is a bitch, on not finding anything in my car they tried all kind of ploys to get me to attack one of them . One recruit as I was leaving threw himself on the bonnet of my car to say, “you want to knock me down that is assaulting an officer.” I am calling on the powers that be to take the necessary course of Justice as I made a formal report minutes ago.”

The MNIMedia editor in his article reported that he checked, as most journalists are expected to with stories that appear on social media, with Pollard.

He continued in his articled ‘open letter’, “It is known that factually the RMPS do conduct stop and search on members of the public. You have a job to do and that is understandable.

On the night Mr. Pollard was stopped and searched, it is understood that he was informed that he was suspected of having Cannabis (marijuana) in his possession. 

However, is it standard practice that RMPS Officers pull over citizens wearing face masks? Are these standard issue gear for your Officers? 

Is it also standard issue that your RMPS Officers should be wearing studded gloves that can inflict undue harm whether intentionally or unintentionally on members of the public with whom they come into contact?

Rastas marching up goverment headquaters

See the full article at: http://www.mnialive.com/articles/what-is-happening-at-the-rmps-mni-media-writes-an-open-letter-to-the-gentlemen-in-charge-of-the-roya

The information that came from this was shocking enough and got us all here asking questions with ZJBNews also picking up on the story and reporting later.

What we discovered was even more surprising particularly that before and after the Commissioner reacted on ZJB radio there have been similar and worse complaints before, regarding the conduct of the police with the public in fairly recent times. We were surprised to learn that several of these complaints had been made to the police before that which caused the media to call for answers.

One returning and visiting Montserratian woman complained of being aggressively hustled out of her car and accused of having too many persons in the car, never knowing whether these were indeed police. She did launch a complaint but was too shaken to ask for IDs etc or names of the person carrying out the stop. Another woman complained of being harassed having been stopped three times within a short space of time and asked the same question even after she had complied by taking her driver’s license and registration records to the police station, the first-time round.

Some similar complaints from persons who have been accosted by who they realise are police officers, later, sometimes after skirmishes or unpleasant exchanges with who they discover were police officers, wearing masks. The police were often, mostly in plain clothes and there was at least one person who said that there was in one instance an officer in uniform, but who hid initially, making identification of the alleged police officers.

The Commissioner when challenged with the issue initially was cautious but spent much time explaining the police functions require them in carrying out their protection of the law to behave in a certain way, that is in keeping with the law, pointing out that no one is above the law. Eventually on the matter of the masks, he said that they are not part of the police kit.  Later speaking with ‘Basil on the Breakfast show’ last Friday, he reported that an internal investigation is on the way. He requested that persons with evidence of the same experience to contact ‘the police, through whatever means they chose.

We discovered that several persons who experienced the ‘stop and search’ accompanied by reportedly unusual and aggressive behaviour, even suffered loss.

Some persons claiming themselves to be members of the Rastafarian community who gather around the Carrs Bay area in Montserrat, also complained that the police had been behaving improperly, impose and trespass on their constitutional rights.

Hearing little and fearing no positive response following their complaints they were eventually moved to protest, launching a march today, which was being planned since Wednesday, to the Governor’s office, with placards and chants: “Police in masks? Terrorists! What we need? Justice! And who are we? Rastafari!

Outside the Governor’s office, spokesperson Karen Allen with whom I had spoken the Wednesday, spoke briefly pointing out the concerns centering around how they feel their constitutional rights have been abused. There they requested and met with the Governor and the Police Commissioner.

At the Governor’s press meet on the Wednesday 26th, we raised the issue of the recent complaints of the unconventional activities and behaviour of the police and the discomfort and distrust the public was beginning to express. With time running out, he responded that he had great confidence in the Police Commissioner who he said was handling the situation as described earlier. He startled us however, that regards to the masks, denying the allegations, “there were no masks he said, they were police gear…”

We will update this report as to the outcome of the Rastas’ protest march which included one of the stops and search victims who lost property, and the subsequent meeting with Governor Pearce and Commissioner Foster.