Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Rethink role of district constables

Published:Monday | April 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The traditional style of policing used in Jamaica and many other countries for many years is not suitable to deliver modern policing and community-safety services.

The demands of our modern age require that the police act in partnership with the public and with other public-, private- and voluntary-sector organisations to deliver collaborative services that address crime, fear of crime and other safety issues which concern communities.

Community policing is central to the concept of community safety. The corporate strategy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force specifically mandates the employment of community policing in its efforts to fight crime in Jamaica. The idea of placing district constables back in their communities was resurrected by the minister of national security, Robert Montague,

Although there are merits to this strategy, it must be noted that this community-policing effort can't be like in the past, where a district constable resides in a specific community and enforces the law there. The reason for this is very obvious.

Today, crime is far different from 117 years ago and even from 50 years ago. During those periods, we did not have major drug- and gang-related crimes, or easy access to guns. Therefore, putting district constable into the community will have no effect.

Let's face it: We are now in a totally different era. The days of district constables in communities are effectively obsolete.

What we need is to have district constables on a rotated shift from different communities, so at all times the trouble communities would have police present. These district constables should received good tactical training and instruction in basic counselling in order to respond to residents' needs while tackling criminals when the need arises.

It makes absolutely no sense to have district constables in the community who have to call the regular police at the station at every occurrence of crime. This would certainly undermined the intended purpose and would be tantamount to going round in circles.