Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Jaristotle's Jottings | Will they ever learn?

Published:Thursday | January 30, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Holiday shoppers jostle with motorists on Orange Street in downtown Kingston days before Christmas.

Despite the numerous positives that can and have been heaped on Jamaica and Jamaicans, particularly in recent years, we continue to struggle with a host of never-ending issues. Yes, Jamaica has been ranked as a premium tourist destination, and lauded for our tourism product. Our stock exchange has been extolled for exceptional performance, while businesses are trending in a positive direction, as, too, are employment rates. However, beneath the radiant crust, crime and corruption run rampant, scandals compete for top ratings in maleficence, and indiscipline flows unchecked. Why have we not been able to address these underworldly issues?

To succeed in business, one must have, among other things, an understanding of one’s customers, whether internal or external. Wooing customers, giving them a positive experience and retaining them is predicated on offering quality services and value for money, effectively cementing an alliance of respect, trust and satisfaction. Obviously, we have mastered that in relation to tourism and the business sector, while policing, crime prevention and law enforcement are yet to achieve such mastery. Let’s examine the reasons behind this failure.

Who are the principal customers of policing, crime-prevention and law-enforcement services in Jamaica? The public at large, of course, with the government being responsible for the provision of those services through the public sector.

Warped thinking

History will show that successive governments have expended less-than-optimum effort and resources to improve the quality of governance and policing services to customer Jamaica, largely because of warped, self-serving attitudes.

Take, for instance, the offer from the Shipping Association of Jamaica to assist in righting the capsized administration and financial affairs of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) which was reportedly rejected by education minister, Karl Samuda, on the grounds that the government has a responsibility to maintain established structures, and that the CMU is not a “likkle fly-by-night, ketchy-shubby business”.

Given the auditor general’s report suggesting ‘fly-by-night, ketchy-shubby business’ practices at the CMU, and with the government having dismally failed in the exercise of its governance responsibilities over the institution, why not adopt a new approach? Warped attitudes and dinosaur-like thinking: we never seem to learn.

Warped service delivery

We have been inundated with vote-wooing plans to expand the numbers and capabilities of the police force, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. At least it shows some appreciation for the challenges engulfing the force. However, unless we fix the personnel issues within the force, particularly the corruption, all that we will be doing is facilitating the criminals therein by providing them with a better platform from which to operate.

It is better to work with smaller numbers of average-capacity, honest cops who possess the right attitude than to struggle with corrupt smart-arses who continually undermine the legitimacy of the force. The same holds true in the private sector, where business owners are obliged to take appropriate action to avert failure and bankruptcy.

Service delivery is key to success: quality breeds customer satisfaction and returns on investment. In the case of the police force, with the customer base being the people of Jamaica, the returns on investment translates into improved police-citizen trust and cooperation and a more sustainable policing environment.

Will our politicians ever learn that actions speak louder than words, and that their warped thinking and actions are having an increasingly disheartening effect on the public? Will our governments ever understand that as long as the public maintains dislike and distrust for the police, the force will remain bankrupt, regardless of capabilities?

Our governments’ history of failures suggests that it is not so much a question of will they ever learn, but of, are they interested or willing to learn? You be the judge.

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