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Heat on commish! - Public unimpressed with top cop rating of himself

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams.

New crime-fighting chief Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams has been accused of overreaching and overrating himself even as Jamaicans are being urged to give him more time to prove his worth.

On Monday, Williams gave himself full marks for leading the fight against crime, but some members of the public gave him the thumbs down for that, especially as rampaging hoodlums unleash murder and mayhem on the country, killing more than 600 up to Sunday.

"I give the commissioner 'F' for statistics because he doesn't want us to focus on stark data. I also give the commissioner 'F' for humility in giving himself an 'A'; another 'F' for results; and without hesitation, I give him 'F' for judgement in so publicly marking his own paper," a reader wrote to the editor in today's Gleaner.

The Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, said he was wary about assigning ratings to individuals, especially when the issue relates to statistics on murder and other crimes.

"I would say that for anybody heading that kind of portfolio to give himself a perfect score, amid all that is happening now with the increase, year-over-year, in murders, might come across as a little unfortunate," he argued.

Continuing, Johnson reasoned that "to give yourself 10 out of 10 could mean that you are satisfied, not only with yourself, but (with) what is happening. I personally hope that he would, perhaps upon reflection, offer some kind of further explanation for what he meant."

Despite the upsurge in murder, Williams continues to, for the most part, enjoy the confidence of civil society as well as both sides of the political divide. But for them, he may have been a tad hasty in marking himself so highly.

Convener of the civic group Unite Jamaica Simone Myrie said Williams assumed the post in September 2014 with significant accolades and high public expectations based on his qualifications, including his experience in the areas of crime fighting.

"All were anticipating a new paradigm and direction in crime fighting and policing and would certainly have expected a credible crime-fighting plan and programme within the first three months of his assuming office."

Myrie said that as Williams approached the 10th month of his tenure, and as one reviewed the crime statistics, especially as they relate to homicide, it could easily be assumed that the commissioner is out of touch with what obtains in the "trenches" of society.

"We all acknowledge that his task is not an easy one as the widespread indiscipline in the society, coupled with the largely undisciplined and demotivated team to work with, provide an additional challenge," she said.

Added Myrie: "The commissioner needs to understand that perception is everything and he needs to be far more visible, assertive, and creative and bring energy and initiative to the office if he is to make any significant impact on the crime-fighting situation in Jamaica."

She said: "At this point, based on perception, he could be afforded a generous seven out of 10 for his efforts to date, with the hope that by year's end, his assertiveness and energy will improve to impact crime and elevate his perceived rating."

For security consultant Robert Finzi-Smith, the rating is five to seven out of 10, with much room for improvement.

He said the rating was not higher because of the upsurge in murders and Williams was still on a learning curve. "He is still cleaning up the force and has, therefore, not started a public relations drive, so I am confident that his ratings will rise," Finzi-Smith said.

Dennis Meadows, a former senator, is of the view that Williams' soft exterior must be bolstered by public support to do his job.

"The commissioner, no doubt, comes to the position with adequate security acumen and a sense of resolve to tackle the monster of crime," said Meadows.

However, he suggested that Williams' docile and not-so-dynamic persona does a disservice to his perception of performance.

"That said, I believe he's equal to the task and should be given more time to make a true assessment of him."