Exclusive | Station head transferred, accused of leaving community policing at all-time low

January 30, 2021 1 By Horace Mills

Sergeant Oliver Johnson

Sergeant Oliver Johnson, who had been sharply criticized for what is said to be his brash style of policing, is no longer in charge of Shady Grove Police Station in Lluidas Vale, St. Catherine.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) confirmed the recent transfer, adding that the station is now being headed by Woman Sergeant S. Bruce.

On previous occasions, there were claims that Sergeant Johnson had been transferred, but those turned out to be false.

The JCF told The Beacon that it is not unusual for station heads to be transferred, adding that they usually serve at the discretion of their divisional commanders. Shady Grove Police Station is located in the St. Catherine North Police Division.

When Sergeant Johnson became station head in November 2018, Superintendent Beau Rigabie was in charge of St. Catherine North. But the JCF this month reported that Superintendent Rigabie was among senior officers transferred on January 25 this year.

Some residents of Lluidas Vale had accused the leadership of St. Catherine North of not taking action despite various complaints made against Sergeant Johnson.

The residents reasoned that, although Sergeant Johnson was a no-nonsense cop, they do not think he carried out his duties in a respectful manner. As a result of that, a serious blow reportedly was dealt to community policing, which essentially is a strategy of policing that focuses on developing relationships with community members. One resident took Sergeant Johnson to court on allegations that he uttered certain defamatory comments during an incident. A group of residents, at one point, planned to protest against Sergeant Johnson, but that did not materialize. There are also reports that the sergeant’s leadership style, at times, landed him in problem with some officers under his command.

In July 2019, The Beacon got Sergeant Johnson to respond to some of the claims made against him. He defended his policing style and denied claims that he carried out his duties without mercy.

“I do my job according to law. I can tell you about myself; I can’t tell you about the [police] force or what happens within the force. I follow the law; I ensure that people abide by the law and that there is fairness,” Sergeant Johnson said last year.

The Shady Grove Police area, which covers several rural communities in and around Lluidas Vale, is considered relatively peaceful, except for occasional armed robberies and burglaries in recent years. Some of those gun attacks and burglaries were perpetrated at different points during Sergeant Johnson’s tenure.

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