Trouble for the war against crime
The Editor, Sir:
I write in response to the March 21 article, 'Cops quit, close to 900 policemen and women resign in less than five years'. That high rate of turnover in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), driven by the high rate of corruption, spells trouble for the war against crime. Those figures indicate that the rate of turnover in the police force is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further if the Government doesn't start taking action to restore citizens' confidence and trust in the police.
I would like to spell out a few useful suggestions as to what I believe can be done to help stabilise the police force. First is ridding the force of corruption and building trust. The second is appointing a strong commissioner of police, who can help correct what is wrong, and help the JCF to move forward.
Jamaica cannot exist without the law and justice. As soon as those two components are ruled out, the society turns into a chaotic crowd. Therefore, it is the Government's responsibility to control the level of corruption within the police force.
The Ministry of National Security needs to establish an anti-corruption department to focus on how corruption can best be tackled. This department can include retired police officers in good standing, clergy, lawyers and other citizens. The first essential component is legal restrictions and regulations that should be designed specifically to prevent the police from engaging in any of such transactions with criminals.
Central to the success of the Government's anti-corruption unit will be developing a long-term plan to fight corruption that would focus on public education, successful prosecutions and networking among departments. Top priority and bottom line is for the police to win back the public's trust that will allow information to flow. This will also boost police morale and help to stem the inexorable tide of resignations.
The other point I would like to address is the absence of a commissioner of police. Why is acting Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington not appointed to the position? Because Ellington is acting commissioner, it makes it extremely difficult to do the kind of proactive things that need to be done in an agency that is in a critical position. I believe the appointment deserves more focused attention and swift action in the manner of other critical national security matters.
The Government must stop the intolerable foot-dragging and appoint Owen Ellington commissioner of police without further delay.
I am, etc.,