Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Anderson: Bury that JCF-JDF merger proposal - Design and purpose of police force and army different

Published:Wednesday | September 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
JDF recruits marching along the Municipal Boulevard in Portmore, St Catherine, in May.
National Police College of Jamaica passing out parade and awards ceremony for Batch 117 containing 293 constables held at the National Police College of Jamaica in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, on Friday, August 17.
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Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson is convinced that the often-repeated call for a merger between the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) should be put to rest and never resurrected.

Anderson told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week that the fundamental differences involving the training, role, function and organisational structures of the two entities are enough reasons for the argument to end.

"Put it this way: If it was up to me to resurrect that [argument], it's dead," said Anderson in response to a question on whether the idea of a merger has merit.

"It is like oil and water. Policing is about the process, about carrying through a number of processes, and largely leaving the outcome to the court. It's an entirely different type of modus operandi for the JDF," said Anderson, who headed the army before retiring.

Anderson argued that the military takes charge when all structures are broken.

"If the police get overly concerned with the outcome, then you can make a case and do certain things to try and fix something, and add to what is there and take matters into your hands," added Anderson.

Emphasising that a merger of the army and police force should not be contemplated, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson said that the design and purpose of a police force is far different from the army.

"You had 200,000 persons die in Haiti (2010 earthquake). There are no phones, nothing. There is chaos. You send the military in there because you want an outcome, and the outcome you want is to rescue people, restore public order, and so the military does that, and they have everything with them so they can deploy.

"They are designed to operate in groups. The police are designed to operate as individuals. Obviously, none of these things that I am saying are absolute as there is a part of policing that looks at outcome, and parts of the military that obviously have to look at processes.

"And as we work together, we kinda blend and come to a middle ground. But in our strict disciplines at the margins, we are different," added Anderson.

The commissioner, who also used the forum to reject calls for soldiers to be given police powers, argued that the focus must be on increasing the viability and trust of the force.

He reasoned that the JCF needs to strengthen its capacity and capability in dealing with policing matters.

According to Anderson, it is important for the police to get its accountability going and address a number of internal issues, which would go a far way to bringing trust to the organisation.

For more than a decade, spikes in Jamaica's murder rate - particularly killings involving women, children and the elderly - have sparked calls for the merger of the well-trusted JDF and the less-respected JCF.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com