Tue | May 11, 2021

Orville Taylor | Two wrongs but no Wright

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2021 | 12:17 AM

Last Wednesday, a Hotline listener from Marseille, France, sent this message, ‘ la verité n’a qu’une couleur; le mensonge, en a plusieurs’ – truth has only one colour; lies have many.

What an interesting wedding picture it is. I cannot confirm the identity of the couple, but the information is that they are serving members of the House of Babylon. Yup, that group of persons, who are coping with an unacceptable mortality rate from the double killers, criminal elements and COVID-19. These cops risk lives and create lifelong enemies, that outlive their active service. Often, they retire, losing income, lifestyle and rank, unless of course, it is a commissioner that has a portable unerasable military title.

If the family members of a retired cop cannot bury her, then she is in for an ignominious departure from this Earth. In the 24 years since I have started to pay deep attention to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), I have never received so many reports and ‘complaints’ from serving and former members about the level of stress and malaise they are experiencing. Unprecedented times. Imagine 14,000 humans trying to police a country where homicide and COVID-19 are taking around 100 people a month. A country where the unruly can’t seem to understand that even the prime minister’s private motor vehicle must be properly licensed and insured.

Let the High Command and inspectorate of the constabulary do their investigation, but do we know if the wedding firearms are real firearms? Defence attorneys often insist on identification parades and independent proof of identity even when there seems to be irrefutable evidence about who the suspect is. Did the model couple admit that they are the same people in the photograph? Doubtless, the balance of probability points to them, but imagine if they were to somehow find some Jamaican equivalent of the Miranda rights and ‘plead the fifth’?

Would the commissioner, the public, or Minister of National Security, my friend, Dr Horace Chang, accept it if ‘Dibble’ and ‘Dibblesha’ simply refuse to admit or deny that there were body doubles and that the M16 and the side arm were movie props?

NEED TO BE MOTIVATED

In the middle of this war, police officers, who are really public servants in paramilitary clothes, need to be motivated more like civilians than soldiers. True, discipline is a sine qua non and nothing, which is likely to bring the force into disrepute, is to be tolerated. Nonetheless, on the surface of this, what I saw was two police officers, who are making a lifelong commitment to act with favour and affection to each other but mindful of the fear, malice, and ill-will, thus demonstrating their capacity to repel criminal elements with deadly force if necessary.

While I do not support their actions and strongly discourage other cops from repeating it, the photo says that the cops are married to their trade. Moreover, it is even more significant that the female is the one holding on to the long weapon while the male keeps his little pistol in check. As far as I know, police officers are technically never legally off duty, and the message is that ‘even in our marital bliss, we are still police officers.’ Therefore, as is my feeling regarding the case of the uniformed individual who seemed to have been fingered by both video and oral evidence, I hope that if there are any sanctions, it is nothing more than a tongue-lashing and not even a letter of reprimand on their files.

Nonetheless, I dare anyone from the green side of the Houses of Parliament or the hierarchy of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to comment on this police matter.

‘WRIGHT’ PROCEDURE

Inasmuch as I agree with the Speaker of the House that the ‘Wright’ procedure must be followed and that the reason for a member being granted leave of absence is really a private matter, the Jamaican people need information and closure.

Chang cannot extricate his persona as security minister from his status of general secretary of the JLP. Embattled Member of Parliament George Wright can choose between a seat in Parliament and any other chair, bench, or stool. Being elected by the people, only they or him can remove him. However, in the JLP of Bustamante, who my daddy knew personally, Hugh Shearer, whose respect I felt at the Ministry of Labour, Edward Seaga, and certainly Bruce ‘Not in my Cabinet’ Golding, there would be no Miranda rights, Wright or writhing.

He would have had to tell the executive if it was him or Shaggy, “It wasn’t me!” and in the absence of a denial or confirmation, there must be space for a default ‘judgment’. Furthermore, in my opinion, the act of withholding a response in a fact-finding inquiry is in itself grounds for punishment.

Thus, Wright can do as he pleases regarding his seat, but a cloak of silence is a great disrespect to the founding fathers and legacy of the JLP.

He is either right or the party begins his dismissal rites and writes his pink letter. A prosperous, loving, and lasting marriage to the cops. Discharge your duties well, and no more stupid moves, please.

- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.