Tue | May 24, 2022

Who is accountable?

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is one of Jamaica's finest institutions with several highly-educated, hard-working and dedicated men and women. However, for several months the image of the JCF has been tarnished as a result of a variety of negative factors.

It is no secret about the bad or even criminal behaviour of some of its members, because they are exposed by their own doings. Just days ago, we learned about the massive seizure of guns and ammunitions which occurred as a result of a routine check in eastern Kingston.

Shame and scandal

With regards to such a shame and scandal on the law enforce-ment sector of course, I now turn to a very difficult method of determining who is to be blamed or who is at fault - by applying the concept of accountability.

Accountability is a concept borrowed from management. When applied to behaviour, it means that some people (commissioned and non-commissioned police officers and civilian employees) and some agency (e.g. JCF) ought to be responsible for performing according to precedent, or agreed-upon terms, or behaviour that is based on trust. Although a police sergeant was held during the find, the strongest case of accountability is determining who else should be blamed for negligence and danger to public safety, which places the lives of all security personnel and the society at risk.

Seeking answers

With regard to the massive find and seizure of these guns and ammunition, I can imagine that a fact-finder will be seeking answers to a variety of questions in order to arrive at this conclusion.

Where does accountability begin and end? Who should be held accountable? And for what and to whom? Who determines who will be held accountable? Also, who determines the responsibilities or criteria of police personnel, and who evaluate these criteria? Will the investigator be too concerned with politics, ideology, or a conclusion that will create other serious problems? Or, will he or she be concerned with protectionism? Surely, most people agree that everyone - police-officers and civilian workers should be held accountable for their own action. Nonetheless, the JCF cannot afford anymore problem and disgrace - it is not good for effective policing, morale boosting and image building.

Therefore, Acting Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington has got a tough road ahead of him.

I am, etc: