New face com­ing for JCF next year

Force to be turned into ‘po­lice ser­vice’

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

THE EN­TIRE struc­ture of Ja­maica’s po­lice force is to be over­hauled next year if the Gov­ern­ment fol­lows through with a com­mit­ment to re­place the law that gov­erns the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF).

Doc­u­ments re­leased by the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) yes­ter­day re­vealed the An­drew Hol­ness administration’s in­ten­tion to im­ple­ment “a full leg­isla­tive re­view” of the Con­stab­u­lary Force Act of 1935 that should lead to the tabling in Par­lia­ment of a Po­lice Ser­vice Act by Oc­to­ber 2017.

The com­mit­ment is an adoption of a rec­om­men­da­tion of the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil and falls un­der the new agree­ment with the IMF. It is not a struc­tural bench­mark.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mem­o­ran­dum of Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Poli­cies, which Ja­maica sub­mit­ted to the IMF, the new law would “sup­port the mod­erni­sa­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force into a mod­ern, in­tel­li­gence-led po­lice ser­vice that en­sures cit­i­zen se­cu­rity, with stronger sys­tems of administration, man­age­ment and in­ter­nal dis­ci­pline”.

There were no de­tails on the na­ture of the re­view.

The ref­or­ma­tion of the JCF has been a ma­jor talk­ing point for decades, and the move to re­place the cur­rent JCF Act is be­ing seen as the Gov­ern­ment try­ing to en­sure the suc­cess of its drive for eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation.

PUB­LIC CON­FI­DENCE NEEDS IM­PROVE­MENT

The com­mand struc­ture, cul­ture, his­tory of al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, ques­tion­able clear-up rate, re­source de­pri­va­tion, among other things, have largely un­der­mined the work of the JCF, which does not en­joy good pub­lic con­fi­dence.

In Septem­ber, a Crime and Vi­o­lence in Ja­maica Re­port, pub­lished by the In­ter-Amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank, noted im­prove­ments in the ca­pac­ity of the po­lice force for re­search and anal­y­sis but pointed to im­ped­i­ments such as lack of trans­parency in data gath­er­ing and shar­ing.

A month later, crime and se­cu­rity ex­pert, Pro­fes­sor An­thony Clay­ton, dis­closed that the force ac­cu­mu­lated losses of $1 bil­lion be­cause of fail­ure of man­age­ment to im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions to change.

“So, in the end, it looks very much that the ob­sta­cles were re­ally to do with the en­trenched prac­tices and cul­ture of the force. To get over those hur­dles, you re­ally need to have not just strong lead­er­ship in­side the JCF, but you also need con­stant pres­sure from out­side,” Clay­ton said.

Re­act­ing to Ja­maica’s in­tent to over­haul the cur­rent JCF struc­ture, Ho­race Levy, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ja­maicans For Jus­tice, said even with­out the specifics, such a move was wel­come.

“I would see it as very pos­i­tive. It’s a move from force to a ser­vice, which I pre­sume is why the ti­tle is the Po­lice Ser­vice Act. Take away the no­tion of force or compulsion, of the para­mil­i­tary side of the po­lice force, which is part of the am­bi­gu­ity in the force. In the one hand, it has com­mu­nity polic­ing from the mid-1990s, and on the other hand, it’s had an older tra­di­tion of para­mil­i­tary polic­ing.”

Po­lice stand guard at a demon­stra­tion in St An­drew, in this 2012 file photo.

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