'Take the fight to criminals', Montague urges cops
Minister of National Security Robert Montague has urged members of the police force to be undaunted as they take on criminals and move to reduce crimes this year.
In an open letter to members of the force last Thursday, Montague vowed to provide the police with the support they need and urged them to take the fight to the "dutty criminals".
Here are edited excerpts from Montague's letter to the cops.
As you face 2017, please do not be daunted by the leftover issues of 2016 or the challenges to come. This year, this new year, is your year to shine. The opportunities are endless if you just claim yours. Do not listen to the doubters. This is your year. This is Jamaica's year.
As you completed the holiday season, many Jamaicans were happy for your presence and hard work. Many of your colleagues, like you, worked hard to keep the traffic flowing, updated files, repaired cars and equipment, or just were present for the people to see. Some of your colleagues did double shifts.
As your minister, I am grateful to you for your hard work. I was so proud when I heard many Jamaicans complimenting the police. Yes, most times they beat up on you! But, now they are happy for your service.
In finding a replacement, many are urging the Government to look outside of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) or even outside the country.
Let me clearly state to you and your fellow officers, this administration wants the best person to lead the Force at this time.
We are also sure that from among the over 11,000 officers, 700 with first degrees, upwards of 300 with master's, five reading for their PhDs, 20 officers who are trained lawyers, many are professionally trained in special skills, plus very importantly, hundreds have years of valuable experience. From the above, someone should emerge.
There are competent persons in the Force. I am convinced of this fact. I believe in you and your colleagues. I believe we can find someone from within. But, if none steps forward, we must look outside.
The new commissioner will be on contract. That contract will have a performance agreement that will clearly lay out the outcomes and timelines, the targets and expectations.
The new commissioner, in applying, must have a plan, a vision, as to how the Jamaica Constabulary Force will be managed, transformed, and be accountable.
JCF quality of service
In going forward, we must build our programmes on firm foundations so that we treat with the root causes of crime and not the symptoms.
We have laid out our five pillars that must be the foundation of our programme. It is on these pillars we will go forward.
Pillar 1: Swift & sure justice
We must improve our justice system, to be fair, open and quick. People must be sure that they will be treated properly and the matters addressed quickly.
Pillar 2: Social development
We have too many people living in poor conditions, poor parent-child relations, poor educational outcomes, lack of jobs, lack of proper names and addresses.
We must lift the lot of our people. We must correct the social ills, so that people can contribute meaningfully to lift our nation.
Pillar 3: Situation prevention
We have too many unplanned settlements, poor planning for urban spaces, too much bad roads, broken pipes, uncollected garbage, lack of street lights.
If we do not correct the issues of the natural and built environment, we are doomed.
Pillar 4: Effective policing
A community-based approach to policing is essential, if we are to restore yours and the people's trust and confidence in the JCF.
Respect for your human and constitutional rights is the surest foundation for effective policing, along with improved investigative techniques, new technologies, better training, mobility and proper interaction with the public we serve. We serve; we are not to be served.
Pillar 5: Rehabilitation and redemption
We cannot continue to have prisoners just sitting down doing nothing but planning the next crime.
We cannot have prisoners ordering murders from within prison.
We must put our prisoners to work, teach them conflict- resolution techniques, teach them to read and write and equip them with the skills so they can earn and not return to prison.
These pillars are our foundations. We must work on them to create balance and the way forward.
2016 Year in Review
There was, in 2016, a 10 per cent drop in most major crimes except murder which recorded an 11 per cent in increase. However please note:
We arrested 750 people for murder this year. The most in a single year in our history.
We removed 700 illegal guns off the streets.
We had a 58 per cent clear-up rate for major crimes
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Churches to lay out the protocol regarding steps a Minister of Religion, must take, to deal with wanted persons, contraband or illegal guns.
We repaired 110 motor vehicles, some in disrepair from 2012.
We purchased and assigned 32 pre-owned cars and 37 bikes.
We trained over 500 new officers this year.
We have invested along with the United States Government over US$300,000 worth of new equipment for the forensic laboratory.
We have started the process to put cameras in Negril and upgrade those in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
For the New Year, many new and exciting things are planned:
200 pre-owned cars will be bought so that every station can get at least one vehicle.
We will train upwards of 800 recruits
We will purchase 40 dogs from Cuba, and send the handlers to be trained in Cuba.
We are contracting a forensic pathologist from Cuba.
We are purchasing two ships and an aeroplane to patrol our borders (the ships are now in Jamaica).
We will increase our investment into the Intelligence network
We are buying more equipment; we will put CCTV cameras in New Kingston.
We are going to network the CCTV cameras to have a National CCTV camera network.
We are going to expand the e-diary pilot for police stations.
We are going to complete the tests and use more electronic bracelets as conditions of bail.
We are going to sign the JCF/INDECOM MOU.
We are going to employ 20 Lawyers to be court liaison officers, to assist with case preparation; and accompany any of you to INDECOM if you are to be questioned. One lawyer per division.
3,500 new bullet proof vests and 2,000 helmets will be purchased.
A new gun shooting simulator will be bought.
We are going to amend some laws for example, the Bail Act, the Fingerprint Act and the Firearm Act.
Take the fight to the criminals
We are determined to take the fight to the criminals. We must not glorify them or fear them. They are just "dutty criminals". We must call them for who and what they are. They are not community protectors. They are "dutty criminals". Do not fear them.
We must together face them. You and the other officers, stand between the "dutty criminals" and the good citizens.
Let us rebuild the trust, let us get back the respect, let us respect the uniform and 150 years of the JCF.