Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
IN ADDITION to using well-needed resources and modern equipment, members of the security forces must, of necessity, take the fight to criminals on another level, if they are to have a realistic chance of winning.
This was the charge from Minister of National Security Peter Bunting to the newest members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) yesterday morning.
"We have to find smarter, better, more innovative ways to practise our policing because the criminals are also engaging some of the best professional minds to assist them," he told the passing-out parade and awards ceremony of 214 constables at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.
"You are joining the JCF at a critical juncture in its history, when it is undergoing an important transformation and modernisation programme, aimed at transforming it into a modern, professional, accountable and appropriately resourced police service. As new members, you are vital to this process. The transformation and modernisation thrust cannot succeed without the commitment of every recruit, and a change of culture of the in-service personnel."
HISTORY OF FORCE
The history of law enforcement in Jamaica began in 1716, when night watchmen were appointed to serve the cities of Port Royal and Kingston and the parishes of St Catherine and St Andrew. In 1832, the first attempt to establish a permanent police force began, with the process completed three years later. This force continued in service until 1865, the year of the Morant Bay Rebellion, which led to the establishment of the JCF.
Explaining that transforming the police force into a modern, professional institution was essential to an effective partnership against crime, Bunting reminded the new cops that professionalism was not an event but a continuous journey in which they would be key participants.
"You've learned, very importantly, about human rights. Significant thought has gone into including the considerations around human rights, human dignity, and the use of force policy in relation to your recruitment and training. As you go out on the streets to enforce law and order, strict adherence to the use of force is essential. Wherever you are finally placed, many of you will carry out duties on the front line. Protecting citizens must be at the centre of everything that you do," the security minister told the officers.
JCF statistics show that up to December 7, some 223 persons were killed by the police, three by soldiers, and five by security guards. This compares to 119 killed by the police for all of last year, with security guards shooting two fatally.
Bunting had this warning for the new constables: "You are also entering the force at a time when we are seeing an increased level of murders. This is of grave concern and we will need your courage, bravery, and dedication to ensure that we do not reverse the gains that have taken place over the last three years."