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Uniform shortage leaves police almost naked

Published:Friday | August 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMTyrone Thompson, Staff Reporter
Constables dressed in new uniforms during a graduation during a ceremony at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

A severe shortage of uniforms is forcing some members of the police force to make their own or to wear uniforms washed out and patched up after seeing better days.

Sergeant Raymond Wilson, head of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file members of the force, last week confirmed that shortage as he urged the leadership of the force to immediately address a problem which some cops say has existed for some two years.

"It is a fact there is a shortage, and people are wearing old washed-out uniforms, people have to be recycling one shirt numerous times throughout the week, and the shoes is another matter, as if a policeman should lift up his shoes you would be surprised to see what's beneath it," Wilson told The Sunday Gleaner.

"It has gone as far as policemen and women have to be buying uniforms and other items from their own pockets, and we believe this is unacceptable," added Wilson.

According to Wilson, the issue of uniforms needs urgent attention, as a well-groomed member of the force reflects the professionalism that policemen and women must present as they serve in the public eye at all times.

Wilson's confirmation came after some uniformed cops complained that the failure of the High Command to provide uniforms in a timely manner has reached crisis proportion.

One constable, who asked not to be named, said he was forced to take a shirt made for women as that was the only one available.

"This shirt that I'm wearing now is a woman's shirt, but I had to take it because it was either this or none at all," explained the constable, who claimed that he had to take money out of his own pocket to alter the shirt.

"I had to take it to my tailor and have him shorten the armband ... but I have to just wear it, because the work has to be done," said the cop, as he charged that some of his colleagues have not received new uniforms for more than two years.

"If you look at my squaddie shirt, the number on it wash out, because is over two years now he has been wearing the same three shirts, so him wear it, so him have to wash it for the next day," said the constable.


temporary situation


While admitting that there has been a recent shortage of uniforms, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell, staff officer of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Administration Branch, argued that this was just a temporary situation.

"We have our challenges like every government entity, and this is not a long-term situation as we are already putting plans in place to have the issue rectified in the shortest order," said Cameron-Powell.

"The truth is that sometimes we are not able to provide all the uniforms necessary as we are constantly having new persons joining the force, so oftentimes when we have a large intake we have certain shortages here and there, but that has not stopped our members from being on the road, and I'm sure you are not seeing any naked police on the road."

According to Cameron-Powell, the JCF is not immune to the economic problems that face the country.

"The country is facing some serious economic challenges, and just like in our homes, there are times when there are unplanned shortages and we have to shift to plan B; in our case, the plan B is that we just have to wear the old uniforms until we can get new uniforms. But I can assure our members that this problem should be remedied in less than a month," said Cameron-Powell.