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No police powers for JDF - Anderson says such drastic measures not necessary in Jamaica

Published:Saturday | September 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson appears to have put to rest the idea of giving police powers to the military.

"For me, it is dead. It's like oil and water. Policing is about the process, about carrying through a number of processes, and largely leaving the outcome to the court. It's an entirely different type of modus operandi for the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force)," the commissioner told journalists at a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the media house's North Street, Kingston, office on Thursday.

The suggestion of giving soldiers some amount of police powers has been posited as a mechanism to help deal with the high murder rate. In fact, it was recently advanced as part of the national security strategy of St Kitts and Nevis in their quest to control the mounting crime and violence on that island.

Anderson said that while not privy to the status of the crime situation in St Kitts and Nevis, the government there may have felt it necessary to take such stringent measures, but he did not believe that it was needed in Jamaica.




"So could we do it? Yes we could, but we'd have to go through a training process, probably similar to what happens with the district constables, then you swear them in and then they become police officers. But remember, the fundamental training is different, and I really don't know if that's where we want to be, and we don't necessarily want to go there either," he said.

Instead, the commissioner stressed that the focus must be on increasing the viability and trust of the police force, reasoning that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) needs to strengthen its capacity and capability in carrying out its duties.

"We just need to get our accountability going. There are a whole lot of internal issues that we have to address and build up the trust within the organisation," Anderson said.

"You talk about trust from outside? It's the trust inside that we have to work on. We have to get our leadership closer to our men. We have to put emphasis on their concerns and welfare. These are things that are necessary because when you abandon people to work on their own, they get up to all kind of things."