Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Mark Wignall | When policemen become scared

Published:Thursday | July 11, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Recently, the Las Vegas police announced that they had fired a veteran officer who, out of apparent fear, froze in the hallways of a hotel during a 2017 music festival as the mass shooter was on the floor above him.

‘Coward man keep sound bones’ is not found in any policeman’s handbook. The opposite to cowardice reaches its full extent when a policeman is in an active shooting situation, especially if he is alone and pinned down by superior gunfire. We expect our policemen to take a bullet for us or, at the least, rid our lives of gunmen on a national rampage.

Weeks ago, Jamaican men, women and even children were shivering in their shoes as they watched an audio-visual clip of a small group of organised gunmen robbing a May Pen supermarket in broad daylight. It was sad that a policeman was wounded in the incident. A probably sadder part of our security narrative is another audiovisual clip showing police vehicles speeding away from the direction of the supermarket.

An early conclusion was drawn that our policemen are just as scared as the rest of us. But it gets even worse. The police have guns, organisation and the power of numbers, yet still they feel forced to run away from a fusillade of bullets from AK-47 assault rifles in the hands of gangsters.

Early this week, I received the call from a source of mine in a western parish. “Everybody know who the don is and everybody know that him main enforcer is a well-known senior policeman. The policeman a run up behind him pee-pee, cluck-cluck and a call him ‘sir’. An unnu guys expect that people going to give police information,” the source said.

He gave me the name of the policeman and I was not at all surprised at the infernal partnership.

“We have seen, over the years, a relationship between organised crime, politics, drugs and other areas. I am not here to point to a political party of whatever colour, but indeed there is politics in organised crime.” So said then Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas in 2005.


It is slowly coming home in bits and pieces to the politician that someone like PM Andrew Holness openly speaking of the link between dons and gangs must have cleared his position as fully representative of the majority of his members of parliament. But, most of them, including some MPs on the opposition benches, are still unwilling to come out openly and admit that party politics will oftentimes seek out the services of organised criminality.

Prime Minister Holness will soon find himself running out of options in the months following the most recent imposition of a state of emergency in the St Andrew South Police Division. I have already laid out in briefest form as possible that the Government has no crime plan simply because the security forces are mostly mobilised and operationalised to respond in fits and starts of panic instead of devising proactive crime-fighting strategies that can satisfy the majority of us in the short, medium and long term.

The mix of music between impending prosperity as a JLP political governance objective and new upticks of gang-style killings is likely to get increasingly atonal.

We may have to award the PM a brief audience with Dudus in his low-security facility in the USA. And the two-part question Holness would have to ask him is this: “How did you keep the peace and how did your justice system assist in the objective?”

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs commentator. Email feedback to columns and