We were met last week with news that yet again, we would be going in search of a new Commissioner of Police. We have changed so many Commissioners of Police over the last few years that I have literally lost track of the number… and names.
I agree, that sometimes changing personalities can be the best thing for an institution but the changes clearly have not been working for the Jamaica Constabulary Force. It is true, that the next Commissioner of Police could be the one to bring about significant changes to an institution that has been losing credibility but unless the real problems in the JCF are addressed from their root, the next Commissioner will be just another statistic.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) needs, to keep it grounded, a no-nonsense National Security Minister (still awaiting Bobby’s show of strength), a no-nonsense Police Commissioner, no-nonsense divisional commanders. It needs to weed out those who aren’t really there to serve and protect anything but their personal interests.
The entire structure and function of the Jamaica Constabulary Force needs a overhaul and reforming. The Most Honourable Prime Minister alluded to such a reform and I do hope that the wheels will be set in motion to bring about the changes that are necessary to bring back credibility to the police force. Being the man to have promised a crime free Jamaica, it is imperative that he comes through on the pledge to reform.The predicament that the Jamaica Constabulary Force faces is one where many of its members cannot be trusted by the general population. Many see the police as being corrupt and unworthy of their trust. The trust deficit is one of the biggest hurdles facing the JCF which must be addressed in the medium to long term to ensure that it can effectively serve and protect all Jamaicans. I acknowledge the cops who go above and beyond to execute their mandate but the bad cops have been overshadowing the good cops and keeping away citizens from them and indirectly fomenting crime. The perception that member of the JCF are criminals themselves do no justice to the institution that’s designed to serve and protect all.
While attempting any reform, the authorities must seek to consult its citizens face to face to get their input. It is a common feature for significant reforms not to include the main stakeholders- the citizens of the country. If any reform of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is to be successful, it will need the full support and confidence of the citizens of this country who are absolutely necessary in ensuring that the JCF achieve its mandates and who place little trust in the JCF as it is now.
The JCF and/or an established arm of the JCF must be intelligence driven. Being intelligence driven will be necessary if the JCF is to get to the root of many of the crimes that are brought to its attention and to earn the trust of those who aren’t comfortable speaking up to its members about criminal activities that they may have witnessed or have intelligence on. This will take the JCF a far way where narrowing the trust deficit between the organization and citizens is concerned.
The reform cannot take place without an examination, adjustment and creation of new and effective programs to target those youth at risk and rescuing them from a spiral towards crime. And for those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law and have their rights abridged, the prison system must offer them reform; not just years of lock up and torture, so that when they return to enjoying their civil liberties, there are options for them other than crime.
Without instituting and completing this reform, we risk finding ourselves at this crossroad again in another few years where we change Commissioner of Police again because somehow, we believe that that is the most significant step to fighting the monster called crime. Somewhere along the line, we’d hope that the powers that be recognize that much more needs to be done and one would hope that we are at that “somewhere along the line” as we search for a new Police Commissioner.
To the acting Commissioner, I wish her all the best. To the Minister of National Security, we hope to hear you speak and act on the language of reform. Being present at vehicle handovers just isn’t cutting it while our citizens are bleeding out in the streets. We need a crime plan, we need reform and the time is now.
Aujaé K. Dixon