Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Most Jamaicans want soldiers to police streets

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:24 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter

An overwhelming number of Jamaicans have backed the deployment of more soldiers in policing the nation’s streets instead of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), who have been roundly criticised as ineffective.

In an RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll, more than 60 per cent of respondents said the police force was not doing an adequate job in cauterising crime.

However, 87 per cent of the sample of 1,038 respondents polled on the issue islandwide between February 8 and February 18 believe that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) should be involved in regular crime fighting.

Former deputy commissioner of police Mark Shields says he is not surprised at the trust reposed in the military.

“The JCF has suffered from a lack of public confidence caused by allegations of corruption, high levels of police fatal shootings, and incidents where the police have been criticised for their ability to communicate effectively with the public.

“The JDF is a disciplined military organisation with different roles and responsibilities. It is not equipped to tackle traditional policing. The JCF must wear so many different hats – from social workers to domestic violence prevention and serious crime investigators,” said Shields, who is now a private security consultant.

In the meantime, only 30 per cent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the anti-crime activity of the police force. Six per cent said they were not sure and three per cent said they did not know.

However, when asked about the military’s incorporation into regular policing, 11 per cent said no, one per cent said they did not know, and another one per cent said they were not sure.

The margin of error is plus or minus three per cent.

Since the start of the year, murders have increased by 10 per cent when compared to the similar period last year.

In 2019, between January 1 and February 22, 180 persons were killed. But in 2020, there were 198 murders over the comparative period.

While the murders have risen, the clear-up rate for killings is at a three-year low.

Up to February 22, only 60 cases, or 30 per cent, of murders committed have been cleared up, according to the statistics compiled by the JCF.

A case is considered cleared up when a suspect has been arrested and charged. It also applies to a suspect who might have been shot dead.