Sun | Dec 9, 2018

Security expert: Police need boost in numbers to effectively tackle crime

Published:Saturday | May 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Robert Finzi-Smith

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang's assertion that the size of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in relation to the population is relatively adequate has been challenged by security expert Robert Finzi-Smith, who believes that the police need a boost in numbers to effectively tackle crime.

Debating a resolution in Parliament on Tuesday to extend the state of public emergency in St James, Chang noted that while there was talk about increasing the size of the police force, "It is very questionable if more numbers is the answer."

"In fact, if you take the American cities, the only city with a larger police force than Jamaica is New York, which has 10 million people. Chicago, which has about eight million people, has a smaller police force than Jamaica. Chicago has significant inner-city problems," argued Chang. "All I am saying is that we need to equip our police force with both human and technical resources to improve their capacity," he said in his contribution to the debate.

However, Finzi-Smith reasons that at present, two states of public emergency are taking place simultaneously, and as such, both the resources of the army and the police force are stretched.

Pointing to the criminal rampage in Grange Hill, Westmoreland, which left seven people dead and several injured on Tuesday night, Finzi-Smith said that the lack of a speedy response from the security forces in a situation where there were separate sustained attacks in the same area has been blamed, in part, on inadequate police personnel.

"If you do not have sufficient officers to deploy to take on an emergency situation and still adequately serve and protect the community to which they are assigned, we don't have enough," argued Finzi-Smith.

 

ONE OFFICER PER CAR

 

The security expert said that Jamaica's police force should not be compared with that of the United States, which is far more advanced in terms of the technology used to fight crime and the support received from the federal authorities as well as sheriff's departments in the various counties.

"Their (US) method of policing would not work here because they have one man invariably per car. That is how they spread out the limited numbers. Now you think of one police officer [in Jamaica] drawing up on five guys with AK 47s," Finzi-Smith reasoned.

He noted that the wanton killings and shooting in Grange Hill without an immediate response from the security forces "proved beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt that we do not have what is required, or a set of gunmen could not hit the same place three times in one day uninterrupted".

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com