Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Rush for recruits

Published:Sunday | March 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Damion Mitchell, Assistant News Editor

THERE ARE strong suggestions that persons of questionable character are slipping through the recruitment firewall of the Jamaica Constabu-lary Force (JCF) and are being admitted to a police force already burdened with corruption being perpetrated by personnel the high command insists is in the minority.

Last week, The Sunday Gleaner sat with three members of the force - a 20-year veteran, a detective who has been serving for the last seven years, and a recruit now in training at Tranquillity Bay, Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth - to assess the current recruitment process.

Their identities have been withheld since they were not permitted to speak on the issue.

Crash programme

Throughout the interview, their tone was different, but their stories were the same: Over the years, the integrity of the recruitment system has lapsed, and this has contributed significantly to the difference in top-quality people being allowed to join the JCF.

"It's a crash programme them doing now," the 20-year veteran said of the police high command. The veteran, a sergeant at one of the island's stations, related that in the late 1980s, when she applied to become a member of the JCF, it took more than a year before she was accepted for training as the background check on her covered all aspects of her life in Jamaica and overseas, where she had lived for a short while.

"Back then, the police used to take the time out to do proper antecedents," she said while lamenting that the process is now significantly shortened to meet "the rush" for police personnel.

The national Security minister, Senator Dwight Nelson, and former police commissioner Hardley Lewin have been on record as saying the recruitment process must be accelerated since Jamaica desperately needs to increase its cohort of police personnel from the current 8,000 to 12,000.

But the police sergeant said she had not heard of any changes to the vetting process to ensure that its integrity is preserved.

In fact, she suspects that corruption has seeped into the process, with individuals now able to make contact with members of the interviewing panel during the recruitment phase to request that they be favourably considered.

It is a claim that was supported by the recruit currently being trained in St Elizabeth.

'Over the years, the integrity of the recruitment system has lapsed, and this has contributed significantly to the difference in top-quality people being allowed to join the JCF.'