Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Regionalise power of police force

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The hope that a new commissioner of police will control lawlessness and crime in Jamaica, or at least bring it to a tolerable level, is misplaced. The current structure of the force is not designed for management of the types of crimes we are experiencing.

It takes more than the police to bring about the changes needed. It takes the courts, the penal system, and other institutions, along with social intervention, to implement reforms.

Jamaica needs a new police structure and management practice and not one carried over from our colonial past.

The centralised, top-down management structure is bureaucratic and unsuited for today's dynamic environment of mass communication, openness, freedom of expression, and mobility.

In response to crime, the force has increased manpower as a strategy, doubling in size from 6,000 in the 1970s to more than 12,000 today. However, crime continues to escalate at an alarming rate, so increasing manpower, by itself, will not work.

A key tool of reform is a regional system, with regional command responsibility, and less delegation of authority, in making final decisions. In addition, he, or she, as commander, should be held responsible for performance in each region. In this scenario, regional commanders would bring a more dynamic and varied approach to problem solving.