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Look outside JCF - Shields says search for next commissioner should be expanded

Published:Saturday | December 24, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Shields

The search for the nation's next police commissioner should extend outside the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), one former high-ranking officer has suggested.

Mark Shields, a former deputy commissioner of police in charge of the crime portfolio, made it clear that he was not attempting to undermine any serving member of the JCF, but said that the Police Service Commission (PSC) must seek to avail itself of the best possible candidate to lead the organisation through the impending transition.

"They will require someone who is an excellent leader, a strategic thinker, a first-class communicator, a change manager, and someone who has sufficient innovation and courage to bring about these overdue changes in the Jamaica Constabulary Force," Shields told The Gleaner yesterday.

"If an internal candidate displays those qualities, then promote that person. But, I think it would be prudent to look outside the JCF at this time," he underscored.

The Gleaner first reported on Thursday that Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams - like his predecessor, Owen Ellington, did - will opt for early retirement. Williams wrote to the PSC on November 4, indicating that he will demit office on January 6, and said his decision was based on personal reasons.

He is the fourth person to serve as police commissioner in the past 11 years.

The PSC has since appointed Deputy Commissioner in Charge of Administration Novlette Grant to act as commissioner for a period of 90 days starting on January 7.

 

INTERNAL RESISTANCE

 

Shields, who was one of several British cops brought in seven years ago to lead the transformation of the JCF, noted that any person enlisted from 'outside' to lead the JCF will face resistance from rank and file members within the organisation.

"Yes, there is no doubt at all that people like me will face resistance. We will be undermined, but, surely, that is better than allowing the organisation just to look from within, which would just continue to breed the same culture," Shields said.

"I've always said that it is a challenge. If you are an outsider, you will always be treated as an outsider, but you have to have the courage of your conviction in order to do the best possible job that you can," he added.

Shields said the fact that Jamaica does not have another police service with which it could exchange expertise at the leadership level was another reason the search for a commissioner should extend beyond the JCF.

"If you've only got people who have been in the same organisation for 30 years, how on earth could you possibly expect it to change? It's just an inbred culture within the organisation," he reasoned.

"Whether it's intentional or unintentional, the fact is you will not get that transition purely from within. You need innovative leaders from outside to do that," he insisted.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com