Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Police Federation laments new era of criminality

Published:Monday | March 27, 2017 | 3:00 AMChristopher Serju
Grant

The Jamaica Police Federation is urging members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and its affiliates to continue to hold fast to the guiding principles of their oath of office even as they mourn the murder of Corporal Kevin McLean, who was cut down by gunmen on Friday evening while on the way home from work.

The 37-year-old policeman, who was assigned to the Chapelton Police Station in Clarendon, was travelling home at about 7:40 p.m. when he came upon gunmen robbing two persons. The gunmen opened fire on the lawman, hitting him several times.

This was the same day gunmen in the rural community of Armadale, Alexandria, in St Ann used a grenade attack to evade arrest by police who had gone to effect an arrest warrant, the incidents prompting a response from the Police Federation that the latter, in particular, meant that law enforcement could no longer be business as usual. This is in light of the new era of brazen brutality by criminals.

"In an environment such as this, we can no longer employ the usual and normal police operational strategy. These elements cannot be bargained with, neither can they be reasoned with. These are not normal criminal activities witnessed by any nation in the world," the federation's chairman, Sergeant Raymond Wilson, noted in a press release, even as he appealed for calm and restraint.

"The Police Federation is imploring its membership to be strong in the face of danger and to embody the JCF's Oath of Office. The rank and file representative body is also encouraging its members to remain steadfast in their commitment to make Jamaica safer, one community at a time, while exhibiting professional conduct at all times," the federation chairman stressed.

He also charged his colleagues to balance their commitment to the general public with the need for personal safety.

"We wish to remind our members that we swore to serve and protect with respect for the rights of all. But let us also remember our families. They eagerly await our safe return home every day. We must secure ourselves and the people of this nation at all cost," he added.

Acting Police Commissioner Novelette Grant also underscored this point in a separate release. "Even as we mourn the loss of our colleague, we remain vigilant and will continue to push back against lawlessness," she said. The Police High Command would continue to support team members and Grant encouraged them, especially those on the front line who put themselves in harm's way daily, to make personal safety a top priority.

This is especially important in light of a more hostile work environment where criminals are being further emboldened by the 'informer fi dead' culture, which threatens the country's economic growth prospects, Wilson said.

Referencing the recent stabbing death of a policeman in London, which set the entire city "in a frenzy", he lamented that despite Corporal McLean's murder, "we behave as though it is another beautiful day. If the posture of the community in general does not change, and if criminal elements continue to enjoy a haven and easy passage, then the public will continue to be held hostage."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com