Give cops the pay, respect they deserve
THE EDITOR, Sir:
To whom much is given, much is expected. I also believe the reverse should also hold true: From whom much is expected, much should be given.
Enter the hard-working men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Never before in the history of the force has so much ever been expected of the rank and file. We are expected to: work long hours, do much with very little resources, face down marauding gangsters who are armed with military-grade weapons, without the use of the necessary force (use the necessary force and expect to face the courts), suffer physical harm before self-defence becomes a shield, protect those in custody from themselves, protect those who are hell-bent on doing us harm (physical or otherwise), and work your entire career without a single mistake.
And in the event we make a mistake, we are expected to: surrender our constitutional right against self-incrimination by giving a statement that can potentially inculpate us (the members of the security forces are the only citizens, yes, we are citizens, of Jamaica who 'enjoy' this distinction), be charged criminally, have ready the exorbitant fees attorneys are demanding ... . And the list could go on.
Given all the expectations, coupled with the hazards of the job, it's time the rank and file start demanding what they are really worth in terms of remuneration. The next round of wage negotiations is just around the corner, and I personally will be mandating the Police Federation not to ask for any wage increase that will be inimical to my personal and professional development.
Wage demands should be based on research on how police officers in other developing and developed countries around the world are paid. My mandate to the federation will be to conduct that research and arm themselves with the empirical data before sitting at the negotiating table.
I will be proposing that salaries be brought within 80 per cent of the developed world. Jamaica is one of the toughest places on earth to police, and it, therefore, stands to reason that remuneration should be commensurate with the job hazards and expectations.