The Callousness Of Jamaica’s Criminals & The Inability Of The Police To Respond In Kind, Bodes Badly For The Country

Like many oth­er coun­tries, Jamaica is no stranger to gun vio­lence; how­ev­er, there are few par­tic­u­lars that sep­a­rate the lev­el of vio­lence in Jamaica from oth­er coun­tries. Of course, if you live in Jamaica and have nev­er lived else­where, those nuances may be lost on you, and you may find your­self in the ‘vio­lence is every­where category.’
For exam­ple, Jamaica is a tiny nation of under three (3)million peo­ple, with a land­mass of 4411 square miles or about half the state of Connecticut, one of the small­est states in the United States.
So when we say there are shoot­ings in America too, a coun­try of 330 mil­lion peo­ple and a land mass of 3.797 mil­lion mi², there is real­ly no equivalence.
Yes, there are many shoot­ings in the United States each year, result­ing in thou­sands of deaths; nev­er­the­less, the mur­der rate in Jamaica far exceeds that of the city of Chicago, Illinois, one of America’s most vio­lent cities, that has approx­i­mate­ly the same pop­u­la­tion as Jamaica.
For exam­ple, in 2020, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) stats show more than 700 mur­ders in 2020 and near­ly 4,000 shootings.
Conversely, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, (JCF), report­ed 1,301 killings in 2020, and a kill rate of 46.5, per 100,000.
Another defin­ing dif­fer­ence between the two geo­gra­phies is the account­abil­i­ty rate; in American cities, killers are arrest­ed and imprisoned.
Even when they are arrest­ed in Jamaica, judges turn them loose as soon as they are arrest­ed, and they right back to killing.
Calls from this writer for manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tences for vio­lent crimes have gone unheed­ed by wha6 pass­es for law­mak­ers on the Island.

As a for­mer police offi­cer from Jamaica, I con­stant­ly harp on the inad­e­qua­cy of the train­ing of our Jamaican police offi­cers. From time to time, peo­ple push back on those state­ments. They point to changes in the police train­ing, (what­ev­er that may be ), which they say now exists dif­fer­ent­ly from that which exist­ed years ago. This, they say, is also part of the restruc­tur­ing plan the Jamaican gov­ern­ment has embarked upon, and which the present Commissioner of Police must be giv­en time to execute.
The police’s activ­i­ties on the streets do not reflect any pos­i­tiv­i­ty from those struc­tur­al changes. Neither does the bur­geon­ing crime rate reflect it.
Training pro­fes­sion­als in today’s work envi­ron­ment must be an ongo­ing phe­nom­e­non; it must reflect the chang­ing dynam­ics of the times; this is hard­ly true of the JCF, which trains its recruits in colo­nial-era drills that has zero use­ful­ness in policing.
These are point­ers that I per­son­al­ly do not expect the Government at the high­est lev­els to under­stand, nei­ther do I expect the lead­er­ship of the force to under­stand it.
It is lit­er­al­ly impos­si­ble to under­stand some­thing that you were nev­er taught. So, it is under­stand­able, that the lead­er­ship of the force would still believe that train­ing young police recruits in drills and sil­ly maneu­vers is appro­pri­ate and suf­fi­cient police training.
Drills are for cer­e­mo­ni­al events; they are use­ful for mak­ing the self-styled elites feel impor­tant in banana-republics. They get a sense of pow­er as they watch their sub­jects parade them­selves for their view­ing pleasure.
Drills serve no use­ful pur­pose in a mod­ern and evolv­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic nation. It gives a police offi­cer no leg up on an untrained crim­i­nal when he finds him­self in a life and death struggle.
Our police offi­cers need train­ing in strate­gic think­ing, how to envis­age sce­nar­ios before they occur, and how to come out of those pos­si­bil­i­ties on top.
They need to be taught how to sup­port each oth­er with­out hav­ing to shout com­mands, not run away at the slight­est sound of gunfire.
Officers must know how to max­i­mize their effec­tive­ness regard­less of num­bers based on their train­ing, effec­tive­ly coun­ter­ing threats as they evolve. A pre­ci­sion-like response should be auto­mat­ic for every situation.

In recent times the lack of train­ing has been evi­dent from the encoun­ters we wit­ness between bel­liger­ent offend­ers and our police offi­cers. We also see the same kinds of aggres­sion lev­eled at secu­ri­ty offi­cers, and the out­comes are always bad for the good guys.
The killing of an armed Hawkeye secu­ri­ty guard in Saint Catherine last Tuesday & the killing of an armed Guardsman guard in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth, on March 3rd, and the injur­ing of two of his col­leagues in the same inci­dent, begs the ques­tion, are they being trained appropriately?
A uni­form and gun/​s do not evoke any respect from Jamaica’s crim­i­nals; even when the secu­ri­ty offi­cers are in num­bers, the killers are not deterred.
Therefore, the dif­fer­ence lies in one thing, and one thing only, ‘train­ing’ and more of it.
But as I inti­mat­ed ear­li­er, if the peo­ple at the top can­not under­stand that what they are offer­ing their sub­or­di­nate is inad­e­quate, how can they change the offerings?
It seems that, at the very least, Hawkeye under­stands that train­ing and strat­e­gy are para­mount, even though they still have it wrong on Jamaica’s crime causation.

Sharon Laing, the gen­er­al man­ag­er in charge of group human resources and oper­a­tions at Hawkeye Electronic Security Limited, told local media enti­ties that steps to revamp the com­pa­ny’s tac­ti­cal pro­ce­dures are already tak­ing place, fol­low­ing the killing of one of its armed guards dur­ing a rob­bery in Portmore, St Catherine, on Tuesday.
That aware­ness is the sign of an agency that under­stands that every inci­dent is a teach­able moment that allows for intro­spec­tion and change. Attributes that will ensure bet­ter future outcomes.
Of course, we will be rein­forc­ing our tac­ti­cal pro­ce­dures. We have not got­ten all the infor­ma­tion [about the shoot­ing] as yet from inves­ti­ga­tions, and even though we have seen some already, we are still gath­er­ing video footage,” Laing told local media.
But then she went down the usu­al rab­bit-hole; “There is an emo­tion­al esca­la­tion from COVID. There is des­per­a­tion; there is a lack of jobs, and peo­ple have got­ten fear­less and uncar­ing. The rob­bers are now uncon­scionable. They are bold, unafraid, and are reck­less to the point that makes them even more dan­ger­ous. In the past, a team being present, they would all depart. Now, there is min­i­mal cau­tion even towards the police force and any oth­er secu­ri­ty field mem­ber. This bold­ness has just put us on a high­er lev­el of alert, cau­tion, and wis­dom. If they can go to a church and attack in a church, it shows the coun­try’s moral decay. Somehow, we have to reach the hearts of peo­ple to make some change. The heart is now hard and cal­lous, and we have to find a way to reach those hearts.
There is zero evi­dence that COVID-19, being asked to quar­an­tine, or any of the fac­tors out­lined by this man­ag­er impact the peo­ple who are killing others.
They kill because they are allowed to do so in Jamaica and get away with it, because of the lax-laws and gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence in police operations.

We can­not reme­di­ate a prob­lem if we are so gross­ly inca­pable of diag­nos­ing it. As long as we con­tin­ue to blame every­thing except the real caus­es of our coun­try’s vio­lence-prone propen­si­ty, we will con­tin­ue to admin­is­ter cures that do not affect the problem.
I give this man­ag­er and her com­pa­ny cred­it for at least rec­og­niz­ing the need to revamp and change course. A pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny is account­able to the com­pa­nies that trust their resources to their care; thus, they are forced to act with expe­di­tious dis­patch to reme­di­ate issues like the one they encoun­tered in Saint Catherine. Failing to do so will severe­ly impact their bot­tom-line; worse yet, they could even­tu­al­ly be out of busi­ness if this persists.
The JCF, on the oth­er hand, is pop­u­lat­ed with tone-deaf ego­ma­ni­acs. They refuse to learn any­thing from the total­i­ty of the neg­a­tive events in which they are involved.
There is no hope that a sin­gle inci­dent gar­ners any­thing but a pass­ing glance for the force’s hier­ar­chy, and then it is back to busi­ness as usual.
The fact is that they are far too com­fort­able in the igno­rance that what­ev­er they may know is not even close to being enough.



Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, black achiev­er hon­oree, and cre­ator of the blog mike​beck​les​.com.