Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Letter of the Day | JCF needs will from within to change

Published:Thursday | October 20, 2016 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I read with interest and frustration the article entitled Wasting Millions - Professor: Weak Management Leading To Huge Financial Losses In Police Force in the Gleaner of Wednesday 12, October, 2016.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been dogged by the same challenges of weak management processes and a waste of resources for years, but there has not been sufficient will from within the organisation to change.

Professor Anthony Clayton's comment: 'that he and other members of the review teams were surprised by the pushback from members of the JCF seeking to frustrate the reform process' is not surprising at all and is certainly nothing new. After millions of United States dollars donated by the principal contributors Canada, United Kingdom and the United States, have been spent on international police officers (IPO)s, legions of consultants and resources to modernise the JCF, there remains an underlying culture within the organisation that 'we know best' and an intransigence to accept change.

Sadly, the JCF retains beliefs within the ranks of its senior officers that they are there to serve themselves first and the public somewhere after that. The notion of holding a position with an emphasis on an individual's value and role rather than rank has not changed. In my opinion, Commissioner Carl Williams is doing an effective job under the most difficult circumstances. But until he is supported by effective management structures at all levels of the police service, his efforts will be futile.

 

Recommendations

 

There are a few recommendations of what may be done to change course. None of them are new but merely a regurgitation of ideas put forward by myself and others for over ten-years:

1. A reduction in senior ranks - starting at DCP level, and the empowerment of other senior officers to actually lead, make strategic decisions and manage their resources and budgets.

2. The removal of senior police officers without the requisite skills from strategic positions within the administrative functions of the JCF; with a shift for the most talented and skilled senior police managers to focus on policing operations and strategies to prevent and detect crime.

3. The appointment of a senior business manager, with private sector experience, positioned at the equivalent rank to DCP, with real influence on managing the non-operational side of the JCF's business. This will include an overhaul of all human resource functions; especially around promotions, training and succession planning.

4. Training senior officers in the importance of resource and budget management.

5. Effective mechanisms must be put in place to manage resources at a strategic level, including the establishment of a JCF Management Board to whom the Commissioner must report and be held accountable for non-operational 'business' aspects of his responsibilities. The JCF Management Board will be run by senior private and public sector individuals with the experience of managing large organisations at a strategic level. Perhaps Professor Clayton should be one of the first appointees.

6. The re-establishment of strategic management groups in Crime, Operations and Business Management, reporting to the Commissioner and ultimately to the JCF Management Board.

Much needs to be done to prevent the same news about the dysfunctions of the JCF being repeated again and again, but I do hope, and still have hold a degree of optimism that this Government will bring about a sustained change by creating an accountable police service that all Jamaicans can rightly be proud of.

Mark Shields

Former Deputy Commissioner