George Davis | I'm resigned to logic, Sgt Wilson
There is every good reason why this Government has ushered in a change, whereby under the amended Constabulary Force Act, sub-officers and constables are now required to give six months' notice of intention to resign or face a quarter-million-dollar fine or three months in prison.
Even as I support the reasons stated in a recent issue of the Force Orders communicating the new resignation regime, I sympathise with Sergeant Raymond Wilson and the Police Federation, who are upset at not having been consulted about the change. But even in this country, where two wrongs can sometimes make a right, Sergeant Wilson must know that the failure to consult is not reason enough for the change to be reversed.
A fact sheet published by the Pay and Conditions Branch of the Ministry of Labour says an employee who has been working with a company for 20 years or more should be given 12 weeks, notice by an employer intending to terminate their contract. For those employees working for more than 15 years but less than 20, the notice period before their contract is terminated is eight weeks.
While the fact sheet speaks to the length of notice the employer must provide to the employee, it says nothing about any such notice that the worker must give to his boss. And this is likely a part of the reason why the police feel they've been given a raw deal.
There is indeed cause to empathise with those who say the Government has blundered and is applying the wrong remedy to the problem of the high attrition rate of police personnel in the island.
But consider that the Government spends heavily to keep, care and train each recruit or student constable for a minimum of five months. That recruit is then put through a course of practical training, including, but not limited to, visits to Parish Courts and police stations.
On completion of that course, they are transferred to a division and police formation to continue two-year probationary training. At the end of 18 months of training, the recruit is required to engage in a special three-week training programme.
It's only after 22 months of service and being carried by the Jamaican taxpayer that the competence, capacity and ability of the recruit are considered by a designated member of the High Command for confirmation as a constable of the Constabulary Force.
I note all of that to ask, how many companies anywhere in the world, in whatever sector, industry or niche, will invest in the training and preparation of an employee for 22 months? And how many such companies have an agreement to let that worker, doubtlessly trained at great expense, simply up and leave with only a month's notice?
When the police force in Canada, the Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas or wherever else gets a Jamaican recruit, they are getting an individual who was trained extensively and expensively by someone else. Forget being fair, that doesn't make sense.
Several armies overseas impose minimum lengths of service for force personnel. In the UK, that minimum length of service is four years, and force personnel in the navy who intend to leave after their mandatory service must give 12 months' notice. Those in the air force must give 18 months' notice. And yes, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the UK army are not the same thing. Nor are police personnel the same as soldiers.
But why do you think the UK army's resignation regime is set up like that? It's to protect itself from losing, too early, those whose training they would have invested heavily in, along with those who it has outfitted with a specific set of skills.
Training a policeman or a soldier is not the same as training a clerk. Most businesses take employees who have been trained by other entities, chiefly tertiary and secondary institutions. Many of these workers are exposed to a brief orientation and then hit the ground running.
Policing is different. And in that context, I can understand the Constabulary Force wanting to hold on to its resources at least long enough to prepare adequate replacements.