Wed | Aug 5, 2020

EDITORIAL - JCF in shadow of SSP Bailey

Published:Monday | July 18, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Quite sensibly, the police commissioner, Mr Owen Ellington, has distanced the constabulary from the declaration by one of his key lieutenants, Mr Fitz Bailey, that gays were the major players in organised crime, and led in the one that leeched money from foreigners in lottery scams.

As we have stated in these columns, the inanity of the comment lies in the senior superintendent's failure, even assuming his statement were true, to prove that sexual orientation has some bearing on criminal involvement.

Also, Mr Bailey and his other officers have not informed the public of their foolproof systems of establishing sexual orientation, whether of heterosexual or homosexual criminal suspects. And if so, perhaps the constabulary will soon publish its sexual-orientation profiles for all criminals - from murderers and housebreakers, to scrap-metal thieves, and even corrupt cops.

But while we welcome Mr Ellington's action, the failure of Mr Bailey himself to apologise, and the lack of censure against him are matters of grave concern that raise questions about the culture of the police force and whether the police chief's statement was merely a sop to the critics.

Up to last week, Mr Bailey was head of the police unit that investigates organised crime. Coming to his last day in the post, he told reporters that gays were responsible for a large portion of organised crime in Jamaica.

Potential targets

To this newspaper, and to many people in the society, Mr Bailey's remarks, especially in the context of a generally homophobic Jamaica, could potentially cause gays to become the targets of violence, of which they are too often victims merely because of their lifestyles.

What was particularly sad is that Mr Bailey did not appreciate the folly of his gay-criminal correlation. So in attempting to explain his position he only exacerbated the ridiculousness of his position.

So, in came Mr Ellington with damage control.

Confoundingly, Mr Ellington had a word with Mr Bailey, a senior superintendent, who shared information, including discussions with the gay lobby J-FLAG, "supporting his assertion".

Mr Bailey, it appears, has not changed his position, but according to Mr Ellington, "fully understands the basis of concern for the safety and well-being of members of the gay community, who may be targeted by misguided individuals simply because of the statements under reference".

Concerned what partners think

Mr Ellington has some practical concerns, including the possible reaction of countries - where the rights of individuals, lifestyle regardless, are esteemed - that provide economic and other support to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

"The JCF, therefore, withdraws the statement and expresses regret to all Jamaicans and our international partners for any concern, anxiety and any appearance of unfair labelling which may have been construed from the message," Mr Ellington said.

It is moot whether the statement was the JCF's or Mr Ellington's to withdraw in the absence of a retraction by Mr Bailey - unless it is to be assumed that the senior superintendent had spoken on behalf of the Police High Command.

The episode speaks to the retrograde culture of the JCF that still has little regard or tolerance for ideas such as the rights of individuals and equality under the law. 'To Serve, Protect and Reassure', the JCF's motto, is for narrow application.

With corruption almost endemic in the police force, Mr Ellington, assuming he believes in the mission, has much work to do to reform the force.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.