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Success won't come overnight, says Lewin

Published:Tuesday | September 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

JAMAICANS ARE being told not to expect an overnight transformation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) under the watch of Carl Williams as commissioner of police.

Former police commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, who yesterday said Williams has been "well prepared" for the job, told The Gleaner that in addition to the job of transforming the force, the new commissioner will be required to secure a sustained and ultimately accelerated reduction in crime.

"It is going to be a challenging job," Lewin told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We have been battered and beaten so much that we expect instant successes overnight," he added.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting had set a target, of reducing murders to 12 per 100,000 by 2016, down from about 43 per 100,000 at present. The national social partnership, which comprises the Government, the Opposition, and civil society, revised the target to 25 per 100,000 by 2016.

44 per cent cut needed

To attain that target, the force must achieve an accumulated 44 per cent reduction in murders, which means a murder tally of 675 per year.

As of August 9, some 590 persons were murdered in Jamaica, 15 per cent less than the 696 murdered during the corresponding period in 2013. A total of 1,187 persons were murdered in Jamaica last year, while 1,097 persons were killed in 2012. Jamaica's murder rate peaked at 1,683 in 2009.

"We didn't get there overnight, and it is not going to happen overnight. I am a believer in this Chinese proverb, 'It is not how bad it gets or how far down you are, it is in what direction are you moving.' Once you are moving in the right direction, then your task is to accelerate that movement," the former commissioner said.

Williams, who takes office next Monday, will be mandated to continue the process of professionalisation of the JCF with special emphasis on respecting the human rights of citizens. Williams is also expected to continue making significant progress in the fight against organised crime and corruption under his leadership.

Lewin told The Gleaner that the job of commissioner was not an easy one, but stressed that "although the challenges are there, it can be done".

"I think Carl Williams has been well prepared for this task but that will come to naught if he does not get the support required from within and without," he added.

"He can't do it by himself. He needs the support of the people whom he serves, and in order to get that support, the other major task is the transformation of the constabulary force, which in and of itself will be a tremendous help in causing that reduction to continue and to be sustained at all levels," Lewin said.

Lewin, who retired from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) as a rear admiral in 2007, spent two years as commissioner of police before resigning in November 2009.

The whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, which published cables sent from the United States Embassy in Kingston to diplomats in Washington, said that during his tenure, Lewin did not make any serious dent in reducing the murder rate in curbing problems with corruption and extrajudicial killings.

Sudden retirement

His successor, Owen Ellington, suddenly went into retirement in July after four years in the job.

Lewin said yesterday that Williams "is taking over the helm as commissioner of police at a very pivotal moment, not only in the history of the force but also in Jamaica".

"I hope he gets all the support necessary from within and without the force. Indeed, I would urge all stakeholders to give him and his staff all the support that they require."