Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Who do we hold accountable for ineffective crime-fighting?

Published:Tuesday | January 16, 2018 | 12:02 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
This look-away greeting between National Security Minister Robert Montague (left) and Police Commissioner George Quallo on January 11 has helped fuel the narrative of an icy rift between the two men.
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This is a statement from the Jamaica Manufacturers' Asso-ciation on the role of the Police Services Commission (PSC) in the fight against crime.

In the last 30 days, a number of incidents have occurred which have brought light to bear on the management and disciplining of the police force. There has been:

- A sick-out by the police, at the height of one of the highest levels of murder, as a protest to not getting a sufficient wage increase.

- The inaccessibility of our international airport due to the hosting of a party, which is now under investigation.

To start the year, we have recorded more than 48 murders, and on January 11, 2018, the United States State Department issued a travel advisory for Jamaica.

But who is to be held accountable? There have been calls for the minister to resign, but what we have not heard is a discussion on the role and responsibilities of the Police Services Commission (PSC).

 

ULTIMATE MANDATE

 

The PSC is charged with the ultimate mandate to ensure that the police force is properly managed, having powers to hire, discipline, and fire key positions, including the position of police commissioner. The PSC comprises five members which are recommended by the prime minister upon consultation with the Opposition. What criteria are used for recommending the PSC members? And once appointed, to whom does the PSC report? It is indeed a seemingly powerful body, and we are uncertain as to how it is held accountable.

 

... Who provides the commissioner of police with his targets?

 

As boards, we give our chief executive officers clear targets which must be met. So, who provides the commissioner of police with his target? Is it the Police Services Commission (PSC) or is it the minister? And if his target is not met, who is responsible? The question is, who do we hold accountable for the failure to limit murders? Is it the prime minister, the minister, the commissioner, or the PSC?

There are a number of fundamental questions that need to be addressed going forward to deal with the issue of leadership for effective crime management, especially as we have a commissioner who will retire in three months, and a system that is currently failing us:

- What are the criteria used to select a commissioner of police?

- What is the role of the minister in the management of the police force?

- Does the current configuration of the PSC need to be reviewed?

- What is the role of the Police Civilian Oversight Authority?

Hopefully, these questions will inform strategies to be implemented as the country moves forward.