Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Stick with 'soft-talk, tough-walk' Williams - Bunting urges government to retain police commissioner

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 7:00 AMErica Virtue
Under-pressure Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams (right) and Opposition Spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting.

If not Dr Carl Williams, then who? That's the question from Opposition Spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting as he responded to increasing calls for the sacking of the commissioner of police in the face of the scary murder figures.

Bunting, last week, joined National Security Minister Robert Montague in backing Williams as the right man to lead the police force at this time.

According to Bunting, Williams is the most qualified person to occupy the position, with his combined qualification and years of experience.

"This commissioner, when he was appointed, was generally acknowledged as the most qualified. Not just from an academic point of view, but from his performance on the job.

"When he was head of the Police Narcotics Division, he was responsible for almost eliminating the cocaine trade. A number of kingpins were extradited based on his work. He was effective in establishing the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency and the Lottery Scam Task Force when he was the assistant commissioner in charge of Area 1," said Bunting.

He argued that Williams is very strong in many areas, even if he is not as strong as his predecessor in communication.

According to the former minister of national security, he does not see a replacement for Williams right now.

"If you are talking about changing somebody, you don't just change because there are calls. You are going to change that person for somebody who you think can do a better job."

SOUND BITES OVERRATED

Bunting scoffed at claims that Williams does not inspire confidence when he speaks to the nation.

"In Jamaica, we tend to overweigh the sound bites and communication skills. I am not downplaying it, because it's important. And it would be good if the commissioner was stronger in that area.

"Perhaps I am sympathetic to him, because there were persons who criticised me because I am not this tough-talking, 'there will be collateral damage, no angels were killed at Green Bay minister.' But it's not tough talk that ultimately makes the difference," declared Bunting.

He argued that while the 'tough talk' may be easier for the public to swallow in the short term, if it does not result in crime reduction, it's wasted talk.

The shooting of at least 20 people, 11 fatally, in western Jamaica in less than two weeks and the murder of well-known Mandeville businessman Michael 'Mal' Levy have left the nation in fear, with many Jamaicans calling for the police commissioner to be replaced.

But Montague, last week, voiced confidence in the commissioner, and Bunting is urging the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration not to make changes in a panic.

Bunting argued that when the JLP was in power between 2007 and 2011, "the first two or three years they changed three national security ministers, three permanent secretaries and three police commissioners without making a difference.

"We tend to do this knee-jerk call for the commissioner to resign. Unless you have somebody better, obviously better, I wouldn't support that," said Bunting.

Before being the top cop, Williams served as the deputy commissioner in charge of the crime. Williams, who succeeded Owen Ellington as commissioner, holds a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University in Texas, USA.