Why do police celebrate failure?
By Ronald Mason
Good policing is both an art and science. The art comes into prominence by the ability to have the community trust you. The concept is not new. It was embedded in the word 'COP', meaning Constable on Patrol. He, as it was then, walked the streets meeting and greeting, counselled with the elders and played with the young. He and she today must know all the persons on their patrol. This we do not have. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is undermanned, the terrain of the country poses challenges, and, most significant, the trust is lacking.
The vacuum caused by the lack of trust between the people and the police has been filled by the 'informa-fi-dead' culture. There is the observation that to have a casual conversation in public with a police officer can be a deadly act. The criminal elements will, as a matter of course, act with the belief that a casual talk in public with a cop is the reason for them being put under greater surveillance. The criminals will seize cell phones and search the log for the most recent numbers dialled, and trace them to determine if a police number is to be found. It is in this environment that our community expects the police to reassure, serve and protect. Our JCF, in part, is failing us, but worse, its members are taking pride in failure.
St Mary officer under the spotlight
The officer in charge of the JCF in St Mary is under the spotlight. Tacky High School's fire, murder and theft have placed that police division at the forefront. St Mary is a low-crime area in comparison to others. In the last five years, there have been 19 murders. The parish has resources in the form of eight detectives who have been deemed to be competent and capable. The officer in charge has had the confidence to rebut the call for more efficient policing, particularly in the Gayle region. He has been proudly championing the fact that of the 19 murders, three have been cleared up. Imagine, all of 15 per cent success rate is offered as the result of good work.
The large turnout of the Gayle community, including the member of parliament, for the late district constable's funeral has been used to promote the acceptance of the St Mary police. What rubbish! The officer in charge is failing by accepting very low standards of success. If we cannot catch criminals and bring them to court, we are failing.
The officer in charge in St Mary is failing the people of St Mary. Fifteen per cent success is reflective of poor work. The fact that the files on the other 16 murders have not yet been closed gives hope, but very little. The eight detectives have not averaged one clear-up per detective in the last five years. The detectives are failing the people of St Mary.
The officer in charge and the eight detectives may be trying to make the case for greater resources. Let them say so loudly. Let us find out where the DNA legislation from the minister of national security is. Where is the timely ballistics report? Why does the national crime-fighting leadership take pleasure in knowing that our murder rate no longer places us in the top three of five in the world? We are still among the worst 15 countries. We are still a society too obsessed and challenged by crime.
Is it the new strategy for the police to say in public who is being investigated for what? Where is the intelligence? What is the purpose of detectives?
The St Mary police have now resorted to public-relations ploys. They have been back to the media and left the inference to be had from the fact that the principal of Tacky High School has been extensively questioned and the school has been undergoing a detailed audit. This plants the seed of suspicion. It may germinate, but what it should not be allowed to do is deflect from the poor performance of those led by the officer in charge.
BRICS NEW BANK
The countries termed the BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - have pooled their resources with the aim of establishing a US$100-billion development bank - a bank to compete with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Their aim is to provide infrastructure loans with less stringent conditions for the developing countries of the world.
What they seek to achieve is less dominance by the USA and others in the world economy. They hope to break the influence that has meant that the head of the World Bank has to be an American and the head of the IMF has to be a European. The need for this new bank is obvious: competition in the form of applications from countries like Jamaica may lead to more satisfactory conditionalities. We shall watch and see.