Close down some po­lice sta­tions, says pro­fes­sor

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Christo­pher.serju@glean­erjm.com

CLOS­ING DOWN a num­ber of re­dun­dant po­lice sta­tions, thereby free­ing up per­son­nel as­signed to them for front-line du­ties, would go a far way in en­hanc­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force to more ef­fec­tively fight crime.

Pro­fes­sor An­thony Clay­ton, an ex­pert on na­tional-se­cu­rity poli­cies, yes­ter­day of­fered this sug­ges­tion as a very prac­ti­cal strat­egy for ad­dress­ing Ja­maica’s high crime rate, go­ing on to ex­plain why it would not have the de­sired ef­fect if done in iso­la­tion.

“First, you have to tell the pub­lic we are clos­ing the station but it is not go­ing to make you any less safe. In fact, the op­po­site is true. In other words, you have to com­mit to a mo­bile strat­egy at the same time as you get rid of the re­dun­dant as­sets.

“So you ac­tu­ally com­mit to rein­vest­ing the money that you’re sav­ing into re­de­ploy­able mo­bile sta­tions ... and putting more po­lice of­fi­cers out on the streets in cars, mo­tor­bikes, etc, and then chang­ing your shift sys­tem so that you are mov­ing them into the high-crime ar­eas at the right times. That’s where you get the big­gest mul­ti­plier ef­fect for your as­sets in terms of re­duc­ing your level of crime,” Clay­ton, a lec­turer at the Univer­sity of the West Indies, Mona, told a Gleaner Edi­tors’ Fo­rum. This, he said, should be done in recog­ni­tion of the fact that the po­lice force is just one part of the sys­tem of law and or­der and gov­er­nance.

“I think it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand, from the be­gin­ning, that you can’t fix one part of a bro­ken sys­tem and ex­pect ev­ery­thing to come

right, but equally, there is a job that has to be done in terms of chang­ing pub­lic per­cep­tion. There are many po­lice sta­tions in this coun­try which are es­sen­tially re­dun­dant. They were needed, in some cases, a hun­dred years ago, but the pop­u­la­tion has moved, the pat­tern of crime has changed. But ev­ery time the po­lice try to close down one of th­ese re­dun­dant sta­tions and re­de­ploy the as­sets to where they are more ur­gently needed, the pub­lic com­plains be­cause they think that the po­lice station makes them safer.”

In fact, if any­thing, clos­ing down th­ese sta­tions would have the op­po­site ef­fect, ac­cord­ing to Clay­ton, free­ing up as it would, the 10 or 12 cops it takes to man a station.

He ex­plained: “Where you want those of­fi­cers is out on the street – in the high-crime ar­eas in the crime band. That’s where they can ac­tu­ally have the great­est im­pact in terms of re­duc­ing the level of crime. Now, none of this is rocket science. It’s tried and tested else­where and we have been try­ing for a long time now, for years now, to get the po­lice force to think in th­ese more strate­gic terms.”

Fletcher’s Land Po­lice Station in Kingston.

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