Batting for cops - Women who work with the JCF speak out as the force marks 70 years since females were allowed to enlist
Four women who provide civilian services to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are urging Jamaicans to be more balanced in their criticism of the men and women in the organisation.
Annette Osbourne, senior director of human resources; Angela Patterson, director of corporate services; Nathelie Taylor, director of communications; and Alethia Whyte, director of legal affairs, were among those lauded last week as the JCF marked 70 years since women were officially allowed to join the force.
The women last week argued that the public often underestimates the service provided by members of the JCF and urged Jamaicans to be more patient with those who put their lives on the line to serve and protect each day.
“It is a hard job for the members. The average police person is not going to leave work in their uniform and walk down to the supermarket. Simple things are a risk for them. It is a high-risk job,” said Osbourne, who has had to learn to appreciate the culture of the force in order to carry out her human resource duties since 2014.
Osbourne said that in addition to public criticisms, many policemen and policewomen face harsh treatments due to the nature of their job, the rules of which, in some cases, can be archaic.
“The organisation is an extremely intense one in terms of the changes that are happening, the pace, and the extent of the changes,” said Patterson, the most senior of the female civilian workers with nine years of working under four police commissioners.
“Each commissioner comes with their individual focus, and as they come on the focus changes. But the organisation, in my view, is one of Jamaica’s unsung jewels,” said Patterson, whose duties involve the oversight of the chaplaincy, medical services and procurement.
“It is unsung because we beat up on it, and we do so because it is easy to do. But not many people understand or recognise the depth of capacity, the depth of commitment and the depth of work that happens in this organisation every day,” declared Patterson, as she argued that the commitment extends from the men and women in uniform to the civilians who serve the JCF.
“I believe that the members of this organisation devote blood, sweat and tears to keeping Jamaica safe. The Jamaican public tends to think of police in a negative light and it bleeds my heart. Many of our police stations are an embarrassment … and yet in some of the worst police stations the people get up and they do their work,” argued Patterson.
Whyte, who started working with the JCF only four months ago, told The Sunday Gleaner that she has been welcomed into the force with open arms and she is not daunted by the many controversies faced by the organisation.
“I think the perception of the JCF is actually changing. At first, the general idea out there was a negative one. But I think that because we need the police for everything, at every corner, they are always the scapegoats when everything goes wrong,” said White, who has worked extensively with the police as a clerk of court, prosecutor, and in the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“We are pushing a ‘force for good’ mandate, and this police commissioner is taking steps to ensure that the men and women are of good character,” added Whyte.
As director of communications, Taylor said the force has been working hard to change its public image.
“It is my duty to devise and implement communications solutions in response to the needs of our various stakeholders, internally and externally. It also includes managing and protecting the core values and standards of the organisation, maintaining public awareness of critical issues and boosting public confidence and trust,” said Taylor.
“I must say it is quite exciting to hold the post I do in the JCF. The organisation, no doubt, impacts lives on a daily basis and as it evolves to better serve the public and it is a great feeling to help lead the change through communications,” added Taylor.
On January 1, 1949, Iris Tulloch, Sylvia Myers and Florence Nelson became the first women to enlist into the JCF. They were selected from hundreds of applicants, and began their journey at the training depot in Port Royal.