Tue | Sep 19, 2017

The problem with the police

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2016 | 1:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Kudos to Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams on the reduction thus far in murders, and long may it continue, though one feels we have been here before. We have had 'declines' in the murder rate to the point that we pray for a rate of about 600, but that won't happen without some serious introspection by the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The problem isn't only the police, but they could be doing better. Take, for example, witness protection. It is no shock to us that in Jamaica, witnesses and informants are deemed as bad and 'fi dead'. Why then do the police not push for more money and resources for the protection programme? Instead of complaining about lack of funds, they should be insisting, nay, demanding more resources or threaten industrial action.

Underfunding, however, is not the only issue. The clear-up rate for all crimes is atrocious and that can only be put down to training. What goes on in training school where an officer fails to follow up on leads? Or can't process evidence properly? Or even coerce a witness because you have reached a dead end?

BETTER TRAINING NEEDED

We need better training for our cops - plain and simple. With better training, they can learn to compose themselves in public, how to think on their feet, and how to engage the community so that they are embraced and not feared.

The Government has also been found wanting, having only recently dealing with DNA and pleas. Legislation and funding are key if we are to tackle crime.

Finally, and most important, is community policing. Almost half the country's murders result from domestic disputes - boyfriends killing lovers, or a quarrel at the bar. Until we better police our communities and have better dispute-resolution skills , we will forever be haunted by the specter of violence.

Please, Dr Williams, keep up the good work, but don't rest on your laurels. Push for more legislation, root out the corrupt cops, and get the guns, but remember, until cops are trained better, nothing will be resolved.

Alexander Scott