Vox pop - How disturbed are you by the spate of murders in Montego Bay
Veteran hotelier Godfrey Dyer says poor supervision is one of the key factors which have led to a breakdown in the quality of policing in Montego Bay.
While addressing a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum in Montego Bay, Dyer, a former policeman, said the culture of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has changed tremendously since he retired from the organisation decades ago.
"In my time, one of the most effective policing [strategies] was beat patrol. And, when I was sent out on the street, I was not just left there for the four hours. I had to work; I was supervised. I would be visited by senior police officers and I better be on the alert looking out for everything," said Dyer, who is now chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
"I watch the attitude of uniform-clad police officers downtown and they lean up anywhere and do anything. They are left there for the four to six hours they are working. [There is] no supervision by senior officers to ensure that they are on the alert," Dyer said.
BETTER CLEAR-UP RATE
In addition, Dyer said during his time as a policeman, his supervisors painstakingly ensured that criminal cases had an 80 per cent minimum clear-up rate, following investigations, in stark contrast to the current 20 to 25 per cent rate.
He also highlighted the need for consistency in enforcement of the law, as well as strategic measures to combat criminal activities which has gripped the tourism capital and greater St James in recent weeks.
Despite the building of trust through community policing being touted as a method to curb crime, Pastor Knollis King, founder of the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace, who was also in attendance at the forum, said this has proved rather difficult for residents due to some of the decisions made by the Police High Command.
"A soon as the citizens begin to develop a level of trust with certain police officers, they (High Command) change the officers. I am not satisfied with the police-transfer policy because if the thing is working, why change it?" lamented King, who is also councillor of the Rose Heights division.
His sentiments were echoed by councillor of the Flanker division, Charles Sinclair.
According to Sinclair, there have been about 12 transfers of commanding officers in St James over the past 10 years, yet the commission of serious crimes continues to be rampant in the parish.