Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Ronald Mason | Put corrupt JCF out of its misery

Published:Sunday | July 17, 2016 | 7:00 AM

Crime continues to be a major challenge to Jamaica. The nature of crime has frequently been attributed to multiple reasons. Let us take, for example, the reason that says, 'If you are not involved in something illegal, you are not likely to be the victim of a crime.' Rubbish!

Last week, we had a three-year-old slaughtered and a seven-year-old set alight by her 17-year-old aunt. One would be stretching all credibility to believe that these events had their genesis in prior illegal activity.

The inept Jamaica Constabulary Force constantly blames murder in the society on two things. The first is 'gang activity'. If the JCF knows enough to make these statements, why is it not aggressively invoking the use of the anti-gang legislation? The JCF does not do so because that would provide removal of the public-relations crutch of blaming gangs.

The more recent vintage is the second cause for the crime (if you believe the JCF), 'lotto scamming'. Everyone and his mother, grandmother and all other family members in western Jamaica are alleged to be involved in this illegal activity.

Lotto scamming is a real policing challenge, but the constabulary has not displayed the required seriousness of purpose in tackling this crime, and I am of the opinion the force is too corrupt to make a dent. Where are the infiltration or sting operations to seriously disrupt and combat the lotto scam scourge? Members of the police force are related to, associated with, and are bed partners of so many of the alleged criminals that the law of averages dictates that most are themselves involved in lotto scamming. They provide a delusional justification for their activities, namely, 'they are not murdering the foreigners, they are only collecting reparations'.

Former commissioner of police and ex-chief of defence staff of the army recently provided some damning opinions on the workings and structure of the JCF. He spoke to the level of corruption and the weakness within the command structure as a major problem. His perception is that would take five to 10 years to transform the JCF.

I believe the JCF cannot be reformed. Test your own attitude and feelings about the JCF by looking at the next cop you see and note the very first thought that comes to mind. It is unlikely to be complimentary. It is not going to be one of confidence in their role to serve and protect you, your family and your property.

The JCF, as constituted, must be put out of their misery or we may all die because of their ineptitude and involvement in corruption. The politicians of both parties love them so much they cater to them, and apart from the obvious reason that the JCF protects them and can deliver 'something' at election time, one is left to wonder why there is so much affection for the corrupt bunch.

Now let me make it quite clear that not all members of the JCF are devoid of any redeeming features. But those members are a distinct minority. I found it striking that the chief of police in Dallas, Texas, where five policemen were shot and killed while on duty, could report that his officers displayed a remarkable level of commitment to a US$40,000/month job by having no absentees from work the next day. That is a police force worthy of support and commendation.

The JCF would never ever display that level of commitment. The JCF is alleged to have death squads in its midst. Members make a modest salary, but many have lifestyles of the rich and famous. They are alleged to sell ammunition and have been caught selling guns out of the armoury. This is the said police force whose management team is larger than the New York City Police Force or the London Metropolitan Police Force, as reported by former commissioner Hardley Lewin.

Singularly or collectively, the leadership of the JCF is not fit for the job. An officer-in-training is killed by live fire while at the training academy. Senior officers have to be removed because they are suspected of criminal activity. Others get transferred to Never-never land. The force is not structured to swiftly impose termination from the force of those who breach regulations. Officers refuse to cooperate with INDECOM and then complain that INDECOM activities are affecting their morale. I note the use of the term 'morale' and not their 'morality'.

If any government wants to achieve four to six per cent annual growth of GDP, it would immediately set about transforming the JCF with a view to reducing crime. The attorney general is off to a good start with a proposal to reform certain laws, because the criminal defence Bar needs to understand that certain rights and privileges would have to be impacted in the fight to control crime and rescue Jamaica. You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.