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David West

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director, David West said yesterday that police under the tenure of Commissioner Gary Griffith have begun to see the importance of the authority.

West was speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew as the PCA marked its 10th anniversary.

He said the authority has come ‘leaps and bounds’ in that decade.

“We have increased complaints, increased investigations…we have delved more into the statistics of police complaints and the number of different age groups, the demographics, where they have the most complaints so we have a better understanding now of how to approach an investigation,” West said.

He said thanks to new legislation, the PCA can now gather information from other bodies during investigations and can participate in coroners’ inquests.

West said whenever an inquest is requested, the PCA is involved to speed up the process.

“Because an inquest really is on the complainant, the police officer and sometimes he/she may be slow in getting witnesses, not through any fault of his/hers but just because of the system, now we are involved directly so that will benefit and push justice for not only the victim but the police officer.”

West said he meets regularly with Griffith and the commissioner has been advocating for his officers to accept the PCA’s role.

“We have a greater understanding of what the PCA is, and I think the commissioner is letting his officers know, the PCA is not against you, it is there to help you. Being cleared by an independent institution is very important and I think the officers now are realising that. Again, it is only a few officers who, out of the 7,000 officers, that commit these infractions,” West said.

He said that come January 2021, there will be new legislation laid in the Parliament to strengthen the ambit of the PCA.

But he also called for the strengthening of organisations that investigate crime, among them, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.