A legitimate point could be made that the Andrew Holness-led Government has provided more amenities to the police than previous administrations.
I do not have the precise dollar amounts, neither do I have the numbers necessary to decisively account for inflation in those dollar amounts today as opposed to yesteryear.
However, with the advent of social media and a savvy administration that understands the value of social media and optics, we can clearly see that some improvements are being made.
If the idea is to transform the JCF into a showpiece, I understand the political optics. But, on the other hand, I hardly believe that the Jamaican people who are law-abiding care about fancy titles and optics while their loved ones are being gunned down and seeing their killers walk around scot-free.
New Police Stations, computers, and other amenities are all positives that should be lauded.
On the other hand, lets us temper the accolades. Let us understand that the government’s primary duty is to keep the population safe.
Unfortunately, for decades, the JCF has been the bastard child of government workers. Officers have been asked to work in the most dilapidated and unsanitary conditions. In contrast, other workers have been better treated, given new offices with state-of-the-art amenities as a matter of course.
A case in point is the new plush offices created for INDECOM, an agency that takes none of the risk police officers are forced to take but were given the best conditions to do whatever they do. They are government workers deserving of no greater respect than our hard-working police officers.
We should not be in the business of heaping accolades on politicians for doing what they are elected to do.
On that note, I ask police officers, past and present, not to look at these issues through a political lens but to see issues affecting policing and the security of our country through the lens of impartial police officers.
One of the much-parrotted narratives we hear is that the police department is being transformed.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES TRANSFORMATION MEAN FOR THIS GOVERNMENT
Transformation is good, but what is the force being transformed from and into?
Supplying the police force with cars and motorcycles is not a transformation; that is company policy.
The police need to have cars, motorcycles, and other means of transportation to do their jobs effectively.
On the one hand, the Prime Minister has been caustic against the police department and how it does business; one fact remains, despite his attacks, the police department was vastly more effective than it is today in every statistical category.
The much-maligned ways ‘things were done’ reaped rewards that this new force can only hope to accomplish. Let me be clear; it has never been that our officers were unable to handle the violence producers; it has always been the political interference that has always hobbled law enforcement in Jamaica. It is not that the force of today cannot handle the violence producers; the same problem of politics in overt and covert ways still hinders crime-fighting on the Island.
In the past, politicians like the Prime Minister, his National Security Minister Horace Chang, and certainly the so-called justice minister Delroy Chuck have been impediments to the police doing their jobs effectively.
The administration can create new squads and slapping on them new fancy-sounding names like “rapid response teams, but the reality is that the prime minister and his team are not recreating the wheel they maligned and demonized; they are squads.
The Mobile reserve had a rapid response team from as far back as the 1970s and ’80s. Then, it was called the Honda squad; yup, it was a squad then, the rapid response team today is a squad...
So they can malign the old ways, the old squads, but I am here to say slapping a new fancy name to a group of guys on motorcycles and pretending that it means that you are transforming the force is laughable.”
I am very supportive of a transformed JCF.
One of the reasons that have impacted the high attrition rate from the JCF has been the incompetence and cowardice of the Force’s leadership and the underlying problems of political interference in the Force’s operations.
As I applaud the government for changing the face of police stations and supplying the police with uniforms and other accouterments of the trade, it is important to reconcile that unless the department gets the legislative help, training, and support it needs to root out violent offenders, it will be for nothing.
Mike Beckles is a former Police Detective, businessman, freelance writer, black achiever honoree, and creator of the blog mikebeckles.com.