THE EDITOR, Sir:
Our police force seems to have a problem accepting the fact that its members should be accountable under the law like any other citizen, and ought to be subject to the same standards as other citizens of Jamaica. They often act, and ask to be judged, by a different standard.
This is the impression I got from the news that the head of the police union was objecting, before the parliamentary committee hearing the request from INDECOM to be given the right to conduct breathalyser tests on police personnel.
I was aghast at the fact that the argument was that they would be in jeopardy of incriminating themselves if they submitted to breathalyser tests.
Don't the police regularly put the public in the very same position when they demand entry to premises, or ask for a body search or a vehicle search, without reasonable suspicion or a warrant to search? Don't Jamaicans subject themselves to the same jeopardy of self-incrimination when they face the police on a regular basis?
Leading by example
Why should the police not be subjected to the very laws they are hired to administer? Isn't example supposed to be the best teacher? Wouldn't the populace be more likely to obey our laws if they regularly saw, or were convinced that, the police unscrupulously obeyed those same laws?
Last Friday, I observed the police failing to obey an acknowledged rule of the road. A police car full of officers drove past the entry gate and entered the Mandeville Post Office compound through the exit gate. What if other traffic had been exiting at the same time? I was motivated to call out to them, "Shouldn't you know better?" Is it any wonder that many drivers on our roads care not a bit about the rules of the road?
American police officers
Interestingly, last Friday's ABC World News carried a story of police officers in the United States exceeding the speed limit by as much as 20 miles per hour. In none of the cases filmed and reported on were they on special assignment, or had their emergency lights or sirens on. It does seem that it isn't only our Jamaican police who tend to feel that they need not obey the laws they are called upon to administer.
It does indeed seem that humans dressed in brief authority tend to feel themselves unbound by that same authority. A little authority is a dangerous thing.
LLOYD A. COOKE
Royal Flat, Manchester