Louis Moyston | Reform, boost police force
At the end of the second week of August 2017, The Gleaner published a picture of the officials of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) regarding the institution entering into the realm of police education and training. It was reported that a memorandum of understanding was signed between the UWI and JCF "to bolster the numbers of members within the constabulary."
The article, '3,000 cops to be trained at UWI in three years' (August 18, 2017), reads, "The MOU will see new JCF recruits being trained at the UWI campus each year for the next three years."
The report argues that the encounter is to provide a solution to the lack of space at the existing police training school. They will occupy regular UWI classrooms. But what the police did not disclose in the statement was the nature of the curriculum.
The numbers are important, but the high command of the police force should realise that a new type of police thinking is needed to treat with crime in an independent society. My argument is that the JCF should seize the opportunity at UWI to increase numbers and also to take the bold step to transform the colonial police force that paramilitary force imported from Northern Ireland after 1865 to suppress uprisings, to protect the colonial elite, and to maintain order in colonial Jamaica.
In the months leading up to Independence 1962, Minister of Home Affairs, William Seivwright, wrote to Premier Norman Manley regarding the transformation of the colonial police force; that the JCF, with its thinking, would not be able to perform effectively in an independent Jamaica.
No real change
Well, there was no real change in the general society much less the police force after 1962. The political Establishment and founding fathers were satisfied with the colonial political system, colonial laws and lawmaking approaches.
To produce 3,000 more of the same police will not make any real sense. We all recognise the urgency of the situation, but the time has come for someone in the leadership of the JCF to collaborate with Jamaican academics to design a transformative education and training curriculum for police and policing in 21st-century Jamaica. This curriculum could be farmed out to a wider tertiary base in Jamaica as well as enrich the police training institute.
It will contribute immensely to the professionalisation of the police force, making it attractive for new recruits.
The aim is to advance a programme to develop a knowledge base on crime, policing and police in Jamaica: before and after 1865. Oh, there is so much history. The bobbies of London were quite a radically different police force from the repressive paramilitary police force from Northern Ireland.
Time has passed. A special English language programme infused with critical thinking is necessary to guide police taking of statements and making their reports.
There is also the need to introduce into police education and training introduction to research methods, philosophy/ethics and jurisprudence.
Of course, international relations and comparative studies of global policing and crime trends would be useful components of such revolutionary programme..
Sometimes we approach the future as if we are afraid of change or that change can wait until later because we have urgent matters at hand. The time has come for the emergence of indigenous Jamaican ideas to deal with Jamaican problems.
I hope the JCF will think about the programme as it progressed because there is real need to transform the JCF. It is welcoming for the UWI to step in to address this critical and urgent national problem.