Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Jamaica Constabulary Force: A birth from rebellion

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 1:00 AM
Nadine Grant-Brown

Civil unrests - particularly the Sam Sharpe-led Christmas Rebellion in 1831, participated in by runaway slaves - created an urgent need for a law force that could help bring about public order.

As noted by the first Lasco Top Cop of 2002, Deputy Superintendent of Police Nadine Grant-Brown, Jamaica's earliest records of constables was in 1671.

"There was an urgent need to respond to mounting threats of insurrections from runaway slaves (in 1832), a spillover from the 1831 Sam Sharpe Christmas Rebellion. This impending civil unrest called for an organisation that could adequately deal with the situation, leading to the first attempt to form an organised and permanent police force on the island," Grant-Brown told the gathering at the Jamaica Constabulary Force's 150th anniversary celebrations launch on Thursday at Toyota Jamaica, St Andrew.

"In 1833, an act was passed, resting powers in the governors to import members from the dominion for the purpose of establishing the force."

The police were empowered to take the necessary measures to preserve public peace. Their attire and equipment were very similar to that of the British army as Jamaica was still under British rule.

Three separate groups existed within that system: a body of constables, petty constables, and watchmen.

 

EXPANDING THE OPERATIONS

 

Decades later, in 1856, there was the passing of another act, which expanded the operations.

"By 1856, another act was passed and three services were made into one, consisting of 15 inspectors, 41 sergeants, and 406 constables."

Nine years later, this system was seriously put to the test when the Morant Bay Rebellion broke out.

"In 1865, a rebellion broke out in Morant Bay, which required the services of the force. However, what was highlighted was an absence of cooperation between the parishes and a lack of effective control of the force. As a result, a law was passed in 1867, giving way to the emergence of the Jamaica Constabulary Force."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com