Call in JDF, scrap parish coun­cil po­lice force – Ber­tram

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter jo­van.john­son@glean­

SCRAP THE mu­nic­i­pal po­lice and hand over their work, which in­cludes en­forc­ing law and or­der in mar­kets, to the Ja­maica De­fence Force (JDF), for­mer lo­cal govern­ment min­is­ter Arnold Ber­tram has said.

“In a coun­try that can­not train and equip po­lice force, I don’t see how you go­ing to train and equip a mu­nic­i­pal po­lice force,” said Ber­tram at a Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum on lo­cal govern­ment, at which he also won the sup­port of some rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

The fo­rum comes as Ja­maicans get ready for the coun­try’s 16th lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions on Novem­ber 28.

Mu­nic­i­pal po­lice units have been es­tab­lished in parish coun­cils in Ja­maica since 1999, with a man­date to main­tain civic or­der, en­force mu­nic­i­pal laws and reg­u­la­tions, and se­cure and pro­tect the prop­erty, per­son­nel and equip­ment of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. They are also to in­ves­ti­gate claims and other mat­ters on the be­half of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.


But Ber­tram, a his­to­rian, said the na­ture of crime in Ja­maica has changed over the years. He in­sisted that main­tain­ing a mu­nic­i­pal para­mil­i­tary unit when the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) it­self was strug­gling was not worth it.

“In 1947, pick­pock­ets were the main forms of an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour at that time. Most towns where you now have a mar­ket district are now hot­beds of crime that range from as­sault to a whole range, that not even an es­tab­lished po­lice force seems ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with. It is un­likely that any lo­cal author­ity is go­ing to be equipped to en­force mu­nic­i­pal laws.”

On that he said the JDF, which was es­tab­lished in 1962 with a mis­sion to de­ter or de­feat threats to the State, is the ap­pro­pri­ate body.

“For some rea­son, we op­er­ate by keep­ing the best player on the bench while we lose the match, and I’m talk­ing about the Ja­maica De­fence Force. If the po­lice can barely cope with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of crime, I can’t see any­body else to help us out of the hell.”

Ber­tram was sup­ported by Noel DaCosta, a for­mer cor­po­rate re­la­tions di­rec­tor for global al­co­holic bev­er­ages com­pany Di­a­geo and cur­rent com­mis­sioner on the Ja­maica De­bates Com­mis­sion. “They (JDF) have the dis­ci­pline and I as­sume they have the time.”

Cau­tion, how­ever, came from Po­lit­i­cal Om­buds­man, Donna Parch­ment Brown, who said in­clud­ing the sol­diers in civil­ian po­lice could throw up “a num­ber of is­sues”. “One does not ex­pect the JDF to be reg­u­larly in­ter­fac­ing with the cit­i­zens.”

“The con­stab­u­lary is de­signed to in­ter­act and en­force laws in re­spect of cit­i­zens within Ja­maica. The JDF is re­ally in­tended to pro­tect us against ex­ter­nal pres­sures,” she added.

It’s not the first time that calls are be­ing made for the army to play a more ac­tive role in the help­ing Ja­maica curb its crime prob­lems. At cur­rent rates, homi­cides, in 2016, could in­crease by al­most a quar­ter, push­ing the fig­ure to more than 1,500 killings, or around 56 per 100,000.


Scean Barn­swell, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Lo­cal Govern­ment Au­thor­i­ties of Ja­maica, said he was against scrap­ping the mu­nic­i­pal po­lice. In­stead, he wants a boost in the num­ber of cops. “Since the merger of the Is­land Spe­cial Con­stab­u­lary Force and the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force, the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are left with­out any unit to deal with en­force­ment as it re­lates to vend­ing and other lo­cal is­sues.

“What we need to do is to in­crease the num­ber of per­son­nel we have as mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cers. They serve a pur­pose in as­sist­ing the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties with per­sons found lit­ter­ing or uri­nat­ing in pub­lic spa­ces, and very soon they can be able to as­sist us in traf­fic of­fences and with per­sons vend­ing, where per­sons erect build­ings with­out per­mis­sion,” the chair­man of the Claren­don Parish Coun­cil said.

The JDF has, from time to time, helped the po­lice with op­er­a­tions which al­most al­ways are led by po­lice com­man­ders.




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