Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Garth Rattray | No to JCF management revolution (Part 2)

Published:Monday | January 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I'm deeply troubled by the possibility of an outsider being brought in as the new commissioner of police (CP). Not just any excellent leader, strategic thinker, first-class communicator, change manager and courageous innovator can lead an essential, very complicated and uniquely Jamaican organisation like the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Given the apparent fluidity of the position of CP, the members of the JCF and the citizens of Jamaica deserve to know if the 'commissioner of police' is a rank (into which one may be promoted into after decades of training, service, strategic planning, operational and leadership experience, commitment and expertise) or a post (to which anyone can be appointed without any police experience and with total ignorance of our culture, politics and practices).

I am very aware of corruption within the force, but I also know that the vast majority of policemen and women are decent and hard-working individuals. To mention looking outside the JCF for the next CP implies that being promoted into the top ranks may not bring with it the leadership qualities and ability to command the constabulary. It suggests that all the senior officers are suspected frauds and/or corrupt and that the Police Service Commission was grossly incompetent to have allowed such officers to get that far up the ranks.

Appointing someone with no police experience into the top police job would be absurd. As happened before, it would be a futile exercise. And, importing a foreign policeman or woman for the top (Jamaican) police job would be egregiously insulting to our entire constabulary. It would destroy morale and, therefore, efficiency among the rank and file. No CP can go it alone. The resultant asynchrony and acrimony would guarantee failure.




The premature departures of two commissioners of police should pique our interest. We will never know why two consecutive, capable CPs decided to take early retirement. Something is going on. It doesn't seem coincidental. With that kind of attrition at the topmost rank, I hope that someone in authority will fix whatever is happening before another CP is placed in that obviously very hot seat.

I blame politics for most of our society's ills - for the poverty, for the sense of entitlement, for the dependency syndrome so rampant in poor communities, for the crime, for the seething anger across the nation, for the indiscipline and for the disrespect that many of us have for others.

A multitude of issues went into causing the troubles in our society. It's blatantly unfair to expect the police to clean up our mess all by themselves.

If we plan to depend heavily on the security forces to bring order to the streets and to reduce crime, we are looking at martial law. Otherwise, we must employ a multifaceted approach to righting the wrongs in society that produce corruption, fraud, crime and violence.

As for the manifestly fervent effort to reform the JCF, that's fine, because many within have been crying out for change. Change can be achieved in one of two ways - by evolution or by revolution.




Evolution is a slow and steady process that never ends (since there is no perfection anywhere). It is constructive and produces the best from the mixture of good and bad. Evolution does not tolerate any sudden changes, but seeks instead to change things for the better incrementally.

On the other hand, revolution is sudden and destructive in some ways. It repudiates former structures by replacing them at the risk of permanent and fatal damage. It is, by nature, radical and marked. What I'm sensing is an intended managerial revolutionary change within the JCF and not just revolutionary ideas to improve that organisation.

Perhaps a middle way could be considered. Promote someone to the rank of commissioner of police and assign one or two special projects managers to spearhead and direct two things: (1) the much-needed changes and (2) the fight against corruption within the constabulary. They need not be from within the JCF, but they must be assigned posts with teeth - posts to which others are answerable and must respond with briefings, advice and, when needed, with compliance.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and