By Mark Shields, Guest Columnist
Les Green's interview with the Daily Mirror highlighted some of the ongoing and well-documented deficiencies of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) but, as a former international police officer (IPO), I found some of his comments to be rude and embarrassing.
Jamaicans for Justice and others appear to have acknowledged the ongoing problems but chose to ignore the offensive remarks. I totally reject Les Green's view that "people trusted white-skinned people much more than they would trust a black officer". This is a wholly unjust statement.
Whilst it is true that some people may have preferred to speak with an IPO, this utterance totally undermines the many local police officers who are trusted, have integrity, and provide the lifeblood intelligence needed to tackle serious crime.
Les Green's other declaration about the characteristics of JCF police officers was equally unfair. It may be true that 'some' Jamaican police officers are lazy and spend too much time looking at pretty girls, but I could level the same criticism of 'some' of my former colleagues in London.
Sweeping statements and stereotypes are destructive and tend to tarnish the reputation of the many decent, professional and diligent men and women of the JCF with whom I still have the pleasure of working. In relation to JCF detectives, many of those I served with are top-drawer detectives who I was proud to work with and would recommend for police posts anywhere in the world.
I'd like to make it clear that many high-profile criminal investigations were not solved by IPOs alone; arrests and successful prosecutions are achieved by a team undergoing a continuous process of training, changing organisational structures such as the introduction of the Major Investigation Task Force, and implementing a performance-driven style of managing serious crime investigations.
The much-improved scene-of-crime capability and a move to properly recorded interviews with suspects are just a few of the many improvements that have been achieved and have reaped results over time. Yes, there are problems, but let us focus on the positive.
The development of standards of criminal investigations and intelligence-led policing is work in progress. In any public statement I made during my tenure as deputy commissioner, I made it clear that reductions in serious crime, especially murder, would take time.
Nobody can individually solve Jamaica's crime problem, but ongoing changes to the policing style, coupled with the implementation of the JCF Strategic Review, are beginning to bear fruit. If the programme of modernisation is adhered to, Jamaica will continue to see reductions in serious crime year on year.
Jamaica should acknowledge the whole truth about the JCF and commend the security forces and all of the other stakeholders for the work they are doing to reduce serious crime. When the government finally introduces effective DNA and anti-gang legislation, the country shall see an acceleration in crime reduction and Jamaica reaching the tipping point of sustained crime reduction and economic growth.
The Neanderthal policing style of shoot first and ask questions later is dying; it's time to look forward to the development of a modern JCF and support the police personnel who are changing it for the better.
Finally, I'd like to commend the management style of Commissioner Owen Ellington. Without his vision and leadership, the process of change would falter.
Mark Shields is managing director of SHIELDS Crime & Security. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.