Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Letter of the day: Policing that works

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Crime fighting cannot be marked by ongoing utterances from the hierarchy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) without embarking on a cultural change in how the police and the policed are perceived.

So, we all know that poverty is an underlying theme that makes it difficult to stem criminality, and specifically violent crime. We also know that it's much more desirable to educate a child than to spend huge sums to maintain a burgeoning prison system we can ill afford.

The issue of community policing sounds great, but I don't think many advocates, including civilians, policemen and women, appreciate its meaning and potential.

The universal hard-nosed approach to policing in Jamaica should be undermined and reserved for the case that warrants it. I do understand this will require frequent engagements between the police and hardened criminals! Nonetheless, the police and society at large will find no satisfaction over the long run with a hard-policing strategy. The clear evidence is that it alienates more law-abiding citizens and deepens the divide between police personnel and communities.

I suggest setting up a task force to look into deepening the concept of community policing by having every local police team visit every household within their precinct. This might be happening currently in some form or another, but it needs to become embedded until police officers become standard members of the communities they serve. This will be a long-term programme where the police meet people in their homes for 30 minutes per visit.

They will have a list of questions, but should have flexibility to speak frankly and show a more humane side of the JCF. They could attempt to establish how many people in the household work, their views on crime fighting, and levels of crime in the area.

Of course, the police are not social workers, but they are part of the same team trying to have an orderly society, and there should be no conflict with the same goal in mind.

Garnett Waite

Montego Bay, St James