Mon | Apr 22, 2019

No scrapping JCF - Disbanding the police force is unrealistic, say Montague, Finzi-Smith

Published:Friday | February 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Robert Montague
Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith

Longstanding suggestions that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which is believed to be ill-equipped and outdated to deal with current realities, be disbanded and reconstituted have been dismissed as a "utopian dream" by National Security Minister Robert Montague.

"That's a wonderful utopian dream. It's not real. Crime and violence is not only about the constabulary force. Right now in St James, for instance, you have upstanding persons in society, professionals, who are providing service to those very criminals," Montague said.

"They will come to the table and attend forums and give lovely speeches, yet in the dark, they are providing help to the criminal elements."

The minister was part of a high-level panel that took part in The Gleaner's Jamaica Under Labour Stakeholder Forum at the company's North Street offices yesterday which sought to take a critical look at the state of crime under the Jamaica Labour Party administration since it took power two years ago.

Montague noted that corruption was not limited to the police force but pervades the entire society and, therefore, needs the efforts of the entire Jamaica to remedy the situation.

"Corruption is not about the police only. It is a societal problem. When that person carries their children's homework to work and photocopies them on the Government's photocopy machines, that's corruption. When you steal the pack of paper clips, that's also corruption," he said.

"So we like to point the finger at the police and at politicians and the parson (pastors), but all of us in society have allowed it to reach this point."

Last year, Horace Levy of the Peace Management Initiative led the call for certain aspects of the JCF to be disbanded, which included the Mobile Reserve. He said then that a new unit should be established to focus on terrorism, big bank robberies, and hostage situations.

"The Mobile Reserve, as it stands, should be scrapped," Levy said in a Sunday Gleaner story dated December 24, 2017.




Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith agreed that taking the JCF apart was not the way to go in solving Jamaica's crime situation. He argued instead that bringing the masterminds behind the crime to book should be the primary focus.

"We have people who are making a lot of noise - who read the papers and who are telling you that the army should be disbanded because it's not doing anything and the police force must be shelled down and rebuilt - who are participating (in crime)," he said.

"You have very big, upstanding people with titles behind their names who are participating. We need to call them to book."