Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
WHILE THE country awaits Prime Minister Bruce Golding's presentation of the new crime initiative, sections of the society are clamouring for 'brand-name' policemen to take charge of the streets again, while others are arguing that hard policing is a thing of the past and will do the country no good.
From the 1970s leading up to 2003, when Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Reneto Adams - then head of the now disbanded Crime Management Unit - was removed from front-line duties, respective brand-name policemen came, did their stint, and moved on.
Some were successful and some were not so successful. Although several still exist in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, SSP Adams was the last of the crop of brand-name police that were active on the streets.
"In my memory, I believe Keith 'Trinity' Gardner and Tony Hewitt were two of the most successful brand-name policemen to work the streets of the Corporate Area. They were fair and balanced," states Paul Burke, former chairman of the People's National Party (PNP) Region Three.
Although he is not in support of brand-name policing, Burke believes the approach could be successful today. He noted that in the past, the police were armed and more equipped than criminals, and so, could easily apprehend the troublemakers.
"But today, things are different, the criminals are equally armed and can stay far and shoot you with a rifle," says Burke.
In addition, Burke notes there were many reports of injustice and police brutality under brand-name policing, but victims did not seek redress because they were not aware of their rights.
"I knew of more than one incident in which innocent youths were sent to prison for a ganja spliff," says Burke.
Drive fear into youth
Corporate Area businessman, Junior Lincoln of Cancara Limited, says brand-name police-men drive fear into the hearts of criminals and some communities.
"But it is going to take more than brand-name police to solve our crime problem," reasons Lincoln. "I believe if we are going to start looking for solutions to crime, we must deal with the social issues and stop paying lip service. It is time we start paying some serious attention to youths."
Retired Assistant Commissioner Osbourne Dyer believes hard policing worked in the past and can work again. Apart from intimidating the criminals, he said brand-name policemen kept the gunmen on their toes and running all over the place until they were caught.
But commentators like the Reverend Bobby Wilmot point to the dangers of the militaristic policing approach.
"Brand-name police and that type of policing has bred another generation that now hates police worse than those before," warned Wilmot who ministers in inner-city communities of south St. Andrew.
He argued that today's youth are more aggressive, and instead of running away, will confront the security forces.
"What will work is community policing. I think that will change the youths. We should try and strengthen the community," said Reverend Wilmot.
Monsignor Richard Albert believes "tough policing is needed, but within the guidelines of the law".
He stressed that community policing is what would win back the confidence of the people.
Noting that a new Jamaica Constabulary Force was emerging, Albert stated, "Police who do not have any regard for life and human rights do not have a place in this new police force."
Brand-name police of the past
Keith 'Trinity' Gardner
Hector 'Bingi' White
Cornwall 'Bigga' Ford
Stewart and Bogle
'Eric' and 'Billy'