Tue | Nov 13, 2018

JaRistotle | Serving and protecting?

Published:Thursday | December 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The recent epidemic of 'police-my-litis' that forced hundreds of the 'federated' members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to stay off the job during the Christmas season has no doubt left a bitter taste in many a mouth. Their desertion of the public at a time when our presence on the streets was at a peak, when we were most vulnerable to criminals, was very disheartening. If there was any time in the recent history of the JCF when they needed to engender public trust and retain what little credibility they had, it was then. Regrettably, they failed miserably on both counts.

I am not averse to them getting a respectable increase in remuneration. They deserve it, especially when we think about those members who really put out their best in the nation's interest. That said, we all know they also have a few criminals within their ranks, some of whom are being brought to justice as we speak, while others remain 'at large'.

On the JCF website, their Vision Statement speaks to becoming "a high quality professional service that is valued and trusted by all the citizens of Jamaica". Their Mission Statement specifies that their mission is to, amongst other things, "serve, protect and reassure the people in Jamaica through the delivery of impartial and professional services". Where in any of these two statements does it speak to holding the government and people of Jamaica to ransom until the needs/desires of the rank and file are met? It seems some ah dem can't spell: The word is 'protect', 'not protest'!

If the 'federated' members of the Force had enunciated something to the effect that 'as responsible police officers and citizens of Jamaica, we commit to maintaining our services for the safety and protection of the citizens of the country, despite our dissatisfaction with the offers we have received from the government in respect of our claims for improved remuneration'. What a difference that would have made! That is how you 'reassure people'; that is how you demonstrate commitment to providing 'professional services' that are 'valued and trusted' by the public.

Their actions have far-reaching implications for the country, both locally and internationally. Many of us were already fearful of venturing out under normal circumstances, much less when there is a noted absence of the police. Conversely, criminals who feel unencumbered when the police are 'on the job' would naturally feel more empowered during the epidemic. In addition, the United States Embassy issued an advisory warning US citizens on the island to exercise caution during the "epidemic". Well, be assured, it was not just US citizens who would have received that advisory, but other non-nationals, including tourists.

 

MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE

 

In effect, they chose to imperil public security and safety, put us, the citizens of this country, at greater risk and put the country in an awkward position. Given the implications attached to their actions we should hold them to account, and start getting our pound of flesh for each dollar we pay them. Here are some thoughts for legislative and administrative reforms:

When they misuse the resources we provide to them to perform their duties, we should recover from them the costs associated with such misuse.

When they use service vehicles to take spouses and children to supermarket and school, they should pay us for those 'privileges'.

When they 'moonlight', providing miscellaneous services whilst off-duty and then come to work the following day, is tired-body police we ah get fi we money! Ban moonlighting!

We also need to impose a ban on beneficial involvement in ventures where such involvement poses a potential conflict of interest. Ownership of taxis and minibuses readily come to mind.

Regarding the criminal elements within the Force, we need improved mechanisms to purge their ranks of the evil ones. In similar vein, we need to rid the Force of the lame and lazy. We should only be paying for medically fit bodies; rum-belly, saggy-hip and weak-backed people who can't pass a basic fitness test must go seek other wuk. So, too, should those who can't pass prescribed proficiency tests within given time frames. If the solutions are not forthcoming from within, then we must impose them.

Good pay, yes, but dem must be held to practicable standards of professionalism and accountability; we tired fi fling good money pon 'dibbi-dibbi-ness'. This is big-man business!