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Jamaica’s top cop retiring ahead of inquiry

July 1, 2014 GMT

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaica’s top cop is retiring ahead of a fact-finding inquiry into the conduct of security forces during a bloody state of emergency four years ago, the government announced Monday.

The Caribbean country’s national security ministry said Police Commissioner Owen Ellington’s retirement will be official after he finishes taking his allotted vacation time in the coming days.

According to the ministry, Ellington’s decision to retire is based “on the need to separate himself from the leadership” of the force prior to the start of a commission of inquiry that will examine a 2010 security operation that killed more than 75 people as police and soldiers hunted for the island’s biggest gang kingpin.

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Last year, Jamaica’s public defender said his office was looking into complaints that 44 of the 76 civilian deaths during the state of emergency could have been unjustifiable homicides.

The ministry also said his retirement will also allow an independent panel to probe allegations of numerous police killings in central Clarendon parish “without any perception of influence or interference on his part.”

Security Minister Peter Bunting said Ellington’s contributions during his tenure as commissioner helped improve police professionalism and lower crime rates. Ellington has been a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force for 34 years.

Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds will act as the top cop until a new commissioner is appointed.