Sun | May 19, 2019

CALL FOR BACKUP - JCF urged to outsource some duties, redeploy cops in undermanned force

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2019 | 9:37 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter
Constables participating in a graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, in April 2012.

There are renewed calls for more police duties to be outsourced to private security companies as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) continues its drive to bolster its boots on the ground.

The JCF says there are just over 11,000 policemen and women in the force, of an establishment of 14,000.

According to the police’s Corporate Communications Unit, the shortfall is being filled through regular recruitment and special drives.

But with a murder rate of more than 1,000 citizens annually for the last decade, some security experts are suggesting that it is time for the authorities to seriously consider outsourcing some policing duties.

John P. Azar, managing director of KingAlarm, explained that although the police are best trained for some situations, there are some scenarios where security officers would be just as competent.

“There are many functions that our already-stretched police force could consider outsourcing to private security personnel as has been done elsewhere in the world with good results,” Azar told The Gleaner yesterday.

“Such a move would allow our police personnel to focus on emergency or life-and-death critical situations, proactive crime-prevention strategies and certain types of criminal/murder investigations, which, for obvious reasons, could never be outsourced,” said Azar.

Among the areas the KingAlarm boss suggested were prisoner transport, traffic control at strategic points, the provision of security in public buildings and certain administrative duties.

“In other countries, there are some neighbourhoods that have their own private police, where private security provides police services on a smaller scale, and the officers are able to take criminal complaints, make arrests, and testify in court. This is able to happen due to a written MOU between the communities themselves and the police force,” continued Azar, noting that outsourcing would be perfect for Jamaica’s environment.

SWITCHING FOCUS

Since the start of this year, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has repeatedly promised to bolster the number of officers in the police force. In January, he said the focus would be “on leadership and strategic development of talent, resources, infrastructure and equipment”.

There has been less talk on outsourcing some police duties, although the practice has begun in some ministries, including the Ministry of National Security, where some posts are being manned by security personnel as opposed to police officers in past years.

Lt Cmdr George Overton, president of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security and operations director of the Guardsman Group, said outsourcing has been a topic of discussion for some time.

“We have been saying that for the last 10 years. It comes back to how they (policymakers) see it. [For example], look at how many ministries have policemen sitting down at doorways,” Overton argued.

“Look at how many policemen are used to transport prisoners to and from the court. There are so many other low-level security tasks that they have highly trained policemen doing that they could easily divest to security companies,” he said, charging that policymakers are willing to make the call.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com