Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Letter of the Day | Security minister in handcuffs

Published:Friday | January 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Minister of National Security Robert Montague has been placed in a handcuffs as a result of the national crime problem. With Jamaica desperate for a solution, and with the law-enforcement authorities coming under such immense pressure, the minister is being pressured to resign because of the 1,616 murders in 2017, the third highest in recorded history.

But how can he be culpable for crime when he has no operational authority?

Let us examine it. The minister of national security's main mandate is to set policy for law enforcers to carry out or implement. He should not be meddling in the operations of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Therein lies the problem. If the minister has no input or say in the operations of the police force, how then can we fault him when the police fail so miserably? It makes no sense.

As it stands, when the minister creates policy to guide the force, and the public is in agreement with the policy, he will not be the one with the responsibility to implement said policy. However, when the policy fails in execution, he is then blamed for poor policy, effectively handcuffing the minister.

Many Jamaicans do not understand that the police force is run by a number of power brokers, and not so much the commissioner of police, who seems more of a rubber stamp - a custodian of sorts. The force is run by the Police Service Commission (PSC) and, to a lesser extent, the toothless Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA).

These two groups are responsible for the hiring, firing, and promotion of officers, and most important, selecting the commissioner in the case of the PSC and ensuring that the policy and guidelines set by the minister are adhered to within the force in the case of the PCOA.

The more pressing question is: why aren't these two groups being scrutinised more as a result of the current state of affairs? From where I am standing, they seem to be the ones with the authority to move the force along.