Editorial: Praising the police
There ought to be limits to praise. For the top brass of the People's National Party (PNP), the work of the security forces, including their performance in the recently ended political campaign, deserves high commendation. Party President Portia Simpson Miller and other officers of the party have repeatedly lauded the police and military for their sterling performance.
We submit that politicians should be cautious about lavishing praise on any group because this could do more harm than good in the long run. The police have taken an oath to serve and protect the nation. The country expects no less.
The major objection to this back-slapping comes from the fact that crime is still intolerably high in our country and the relationship between the police and many inner-city communities remains chronically hostile. And even though crime is said to be trending down, any critique of the situation is likely to find that it is nowhere realistically low for the majority to feel secure or for those who will fall prey to criminals whether in their homes or on the streets.
We expect that there are solid examples of the police carrying out their duties effectively and efficiently, and we agree that these praiseworthy examples may be shared with the public. However, if we are honest, we must admit that the general performance of the police leaves much to be desired.
There have been diverse concerns about police performance from citizens. Some examples of the ineptitude of the police include the inability to solve the recent disappearance of a 35-ft Boston Whaler marine vessel from the Negril Police Station. This happened mere months after a motorcycle disappeared from the Junction police station in St. Elizabeth. Both were supposed to assist police mobility in conducting their work.
The low clear-up rate of criminal activity is another area in which the JCF is an abysmal performer. We must mention the case of the missing four after their home was torched in Lime Hall, St Ann, in November last year, as well as the recent hacking to death of an elderly couple in Manchester. There is no indication that the police are making any headway in these high-profile cases.
We believe the incoming government owes it to the citizenry of Jamaica to elevate national security to the priority status it deserves. The provision of safety and security for Jamaicans ought to rank equally with the economy as an issue requiring wide-based cooperation to benefit the interests of all our communities.
We urge the new Government to seize this profound moment in our history to transform the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) into an effective, efficient and professional organisation that has the ability to significantly reduce crime, speedily investigate and solve crimes and make national security the centrepiece of new investment initiatives. Excellent security is a major step towards prosperity.
This will only happen when the police are given adequate human and capital resources, including modern equipment. It also requires serious adjustment in attitudes by citizens who must appreciate the need to have greater respect for the rule of law and fellow citizens and their property.