JCF wast­ing $3m an­nu­ally on po­lice horses – Shields

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ryon Jones Staff Reporter ryon.jones@glean­erjm.com

AT LEAST one se­cu­rity ex­pert be­lieves that the more than three mil­lion dol­lars be­ing spent each year to tend to the 15 geld­ing horses in the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) Mounted Troop Di­vi­sion is a waste of re­sources.

The annual ex­penses in­curred to tend to the an­i­mals cover grass and grains ($2,400,000), sup­ple­ments ($150,000), other items for their main­te­nance, such as sham­poo, groom­ing brush, et al ($100,000), and vet­eri­nary care (cost vary, based on need).

The more than $3 mil­lion to care for the horses rep­re­sents a mere .0051 per cent of the Min­istry of National Se­cu­rity’s $59 bil­lion bud­get for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, but for­mer Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice Mark Shields be­lieves this money could be spent on some­thing of far greater im­por­tance to the JCF.

VALUE FOR MONEY

“Con­sid­er­ing the over­all size of the JCF annual bud­get, $3 mil­lion is not a great deal of money. The ques­tion, how­ever, is whether hav­ing a mounted troop di­vi­sion of­fers good value for money,” Shields shared with The Sun­day Gleaner.

“At a time when the JCF is be­ing ac­cused of wast­ing a bil­lion dol­lars a year, it is crit­i­cal that they ask the ques­tions and prove their busi­ness case for the con­tin­u­a­tion of the mounted troop.”

Shields, who served for five years in the JCF as a deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice, is call­ing for an ob­jec­tive look at whether the mounted troop di­vi­sion is ef­fi­cient, ef­fec­tive and makes good economic sense.

“If the an­swer is not yes to those ques­tions, then some­body has to make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion and say good­bye to the mounted branch and spend that three mil­lion dol­lars on some­thing that

would be of far more pri­or­ity to the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force,” he said.

The JCF, how­ever, is adamant that the money is well spent, with 10 mounted pa­trols de­ployed on av­er­age weekly, each con­sist­ing of at least two po­lice of­fi­cers atop their re­spec­tive horse.

In ad­di­tion to pa­trols, a spokesper­son for the di­vi­sion con­tends that the horses are an ex­tremely use­ful re­source in crowd con­trol. The an­i­mals are also used in cer­e­mo­nial du­ties such as the gover­nor gen­eral’s es­cort at the state

open­ing of Par­lia­ment and funeral es­corts for de­ceased dig­ni­taries. The mounted troop di­vi­sion also par­tic­i­pates in ex­hi­bi­tions and dis­play se­lec­tions in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties and schools.

Shields, who prior to mov­ing to Ja­maica served for 28 years as a Bri­tish law-en­force­ment of­fi­cer, in­clud­ing in London, which has a strong mounted branch, does not be­lieve there is suf­fi­cient need for a mounted troop di­vi­sion lo­cally.

“In some polic­ing ar­eas such as

London, po­lice horses can be a highly ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tional tool in pub­lic or­der sit­u­a­tions. For ex­am­ple, just six highly trained po­lice horses can keep 35,000 ri­val foot­ball fans apart at a typ­i­cal English Premiership foot­ball game,” said Shields, who now runs a pri­vate se­cu­rity firm in Ja­maica.

“In Ja­maica, do we have suf­fi­ciently large pub­lic or­der events or cer­e­mo­nial pro­ces­sions to jus­tify the cost, or could the money be spent on scene-of-crime equip­ment, for ex­am­ple?”

He fur­ther pointed out that Hum­ber­side Po­lice in north Eng­land took the de­ci­sion to dis­band the mounted branch in March 2014, which costs £500,000 per year to main­tain, and will now gen­er­ate sav­ings of £2 mil­lion over four years.

Shields also ques­tioned the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for five deputy com­mis­sion­ers and 15 as­sis­tant com­mis­sion­ers within the JCF. He be­lieves a re­duc­tion of se­nior of­fi­cers in line with the rec­om­men­da­tions of the 2007 JCF Strate­gic Re­view would prove very cost-ef­fec­tive.

A spokesper­son for the Mounted Troop di­vi­sion con­tends that the horses are an ex­tremely use­ful re­source in crowd con­trol.

SHIELDS

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