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Montague urges cops to reject corruption - promises improved working conditions

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
In this file photo, members of the force parade at the installation ceremony for the Comissioner of Police at the Police Officers Club.

Western Bureau:

While heaping glowing praise on the police for their service to the nation, including describing them as "the best trained in the western hemisphere", National Security Minister Robert Montague yesterday call on lawmen to do all they can to fight corruption with their ranks.

"I have already stated that I will do all I can to fight corruption. Commissioner (George) Quallo has that stated he will lead the fight, but we need one more, just one more. Will you be that one person to stand up for that right? Will you make the tough decision to report others, even your 'squaddie'?" asked Montague. He was giving the keynote address at the Jamaica Police Federation's 74th Annual Joint Central Conference in Montego Bay.

In addressing corruption in its simplest form, Montague said that matters such as officers reporting late to work and not recording it, taking sick leave when they were not sick, lending out their health card, taking the squad car and go to visit a spouse, taking home paper clips and photocopying hundreds of pages unauthorised, all amounted to corruption.

"When you work hard to do what is right, pass all the exams and are overlooked, and others are promoted, that is corruption. When you know that is police shoot police and you are silent, that's corruption," added Montague.

In pointing to the need to have a clean police force, Montague asked how many members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) would encourage their children to join the JCF, noting that, "If we are serving and do not want our children to join, then something is wrong, and we must resolve today to begin to correct what is wrong."

Montague went on to explain that the Government is working assiduously to improve the working conditions of the police, to include retired members who had entitlements that were not met.

"The programme to improve working conditions has gone well: 17 stations have been completed. We intend to do 30 for 2017. We are increasing the intake, training more so that you do not have to be overworked and stressed," said Montague. "We paid the $309 million due to retired police officers, some from 2012. We are putting more resources into training and human resource development, our National Police College will soon become a polytechnic, where you can get your degree while working on the job."

... Minister's Medal of Appreciation for top cops

Robert Montague also listed a number of additional things that have been done to improve the quality of life for the police and things that are in the pipeline. Among the items listed were:

- Repairs done to the dormitories at the National Police College.

- The construction of new police stations at Shady Grove, Port Maria and Longville Park.

- Plans to provide legal support to police divisions in cases with INDECOM, if the need arises.

- The provision of 2,500 ballistic vests and 3,000 helmets to protect officers on duty.

- Making district constables pensionable since April 2016.

Montague outlined two programmes designed to reward outstanding work by police. One will be the Minister's Medal of Appreciation to be given in three categories - Community Service (to serve); Operations (to protect); and for non-Geographic (to reassure). The medals will be gold, silver and bronze, one for each category.

"This is another means of showing appreciation, of recognising and rewarding the hard work of our police personnel," said Montague.

"I will promote and big up Police Week so persons can be informed of the wonderful work being done by our police personnel. During that week, I will also declare a day of mourning for fallen police personnel."