Stuck with JCF

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Mark Wig­nall is a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst. Email feedback to col­umns@glean­erjm and ob­serve­ Gor­don Robin­son is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feedback to col­umns@ glean­

Prior to hav­ing lunch with Dan­hai Wil­liams at an up­town eatery some years ago, a few burly men who were his body­guards scouted the restau­rant. Then he ap­peared. We also had a sim­ple yet lav­ish fish lunch at Dan­hai Wil­liams (right) and Karl Blythe at the PNP’s 66th an­nual con­fer­ence at The Mico Univer­sity Col­lege on Fe­bru­ary 5, 2005.

his Homestead Road of­fice, along with some rough-look­ing young men who were more than his loy­al­ists.

We met at Devon House one day while I was writ­ing ar­ti­cles about Op­er­a­tion PRIDE and he was one of the main con­trac­tors cited. I gather that of­fi­cers from the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) sur­rep­ti­tiously took pic­tures of us. They were prob­a­bly trail­ing him and not me.

One day, while re­turn­ing from the air­port, I stopped at the traf­fic

light at the in­ter­sec­tion of Moun­tain View Av­enue and Old Hope Road. A wind­screen washer ap­peared. I told him no, but he re­fused and pressed ahead. When I shouted to him, he threw a wall of dirty suds on the wind­screen.

I told him a string of bad words as he flicked open a switch­blade and came men­ac­ingly to­wards the car. Chup­ski touched the ‘up’ switch on the win­dow as the light changed and I sped through. I felt vi­o­lated and belittled in front of my lady.

The next day, I called Dan­hai Wil­liams and told him about the incident be­cause I knew he wielded sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence on the ground in the east. He asked for de­tails. A few days later, he called me and said, ‘Hey, Papa, if you pass dat way again, I don’t think yu go­ing to run into that prob­lem again.’

In 1999, in broad day­light, I was held up at the cor­ner of Sun­light Street and Max­field Av­enue. I wrote about the incident and said that I had driven back to the spot in dis­guise and spot­ted the ring leader with the nasty scar on his face.

I re­ceived a call from the late ‘Jessie Hogg’. In his grav­elly voice, he said he wished to see me. We met at his place as he broke out the Remy for me. I gave him de­tails, and about a week later, he told me that my prob­lem was solved. The fel­low was unusu­ally chas­tened.

There are trou­bling num­bers of cor­rupt and deadly po­lice­men in­side the JCF to make us fear it, but also sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of good and well-mean­ing mem­bers to make us want to save it. It is quite dif­fi­cult to know who in the lead­er­ship ranks of the JCF are the gen­uine ar­ti­cle and who are those which are us­ing the Force for in­fer­nal rea­sons.

Ev­ery lawyer, judge, pros­e­cu­tor, most JPs, all big busi­ness­men and politi­cians know how the JCF is made up, and how it is in­ter­wo­ven in the car­riage or mis­car­riage of jus­tice. The man and woman at street level only know that they are screwed over ev­ery time.

The big busi­ness­man holds no ro­man­tic no­tions of jus­tice be­ing blind and no­ble in its pur­suit. He is no fool and knows that jus­tice costs money. He also knows that when it is needed, a pow­er­ful po­lice­man, as an ally, costs money, too.

As I have stated be­fore, power at­tracts power, and so big busi­ness, the crim­i­nal un­der­world, pol­i­tics and the many facets of power within the jus­tice sys­tem are never far from op­er­at­ing on the same page. Some­times even the Church will wade in.

If Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Robert Mon­tague wants to leave a le­gacy worth much more than words from a politi­cian, he must, in this term, be­gin the process of re­form­ing the JCF. It’s a dif­fi­cult fix be­cause the bad baby can­not be thrown out with the bath wa­ter.

There are men in the JCF who have taken it unto them­selves to crim­i­nalise their pro­fes­sional sta­tus by us­ing the force as a means to en­rich them­selves.

The young­sters at the bot­tom have seen it. One man emailed me to say his younger brother was, un­til five years ago, say­ing that he was go­ing to stay in the JCF un­til he would be able to col­lect a pen­sion.

Now, he is so un­mo­ti­vated and just wait­ing on some­thing bet­ter to crop up while work­ing on his travel papers.

If sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of peo­ple in this coun­try still do not trust the JCF, and es­pe­cially its hi­er­ar­chy, to as­sist in the first part of the de­liv­ery of jus­tice, then what we have star­ing us in the face is the ac­cep­tance that it is more than deeply flawed, even crim­i­nal in parts of it.

We ought not to fool our­selves that ev­ery­thing that po­lice­man in the vi­ral video said was fa­ble. Many of us know that cer­tain po­lice­men plant­ing guns on the poor is le­gion. Many shoot-outs are gen­uine, but so are more than a few just plain mur­der.

To pre­tend that all the cop said was wor­thy of dis­missal is un­der­stand­able. The broader fra­ter­nity is forced to de­fend even the worst in­side it be­cause it makes the whole fruit smell rot­ten.

A school prin­ci­pal may chide and dis­ci­pline a teacher or sets of teach­ers. In the JCF, those to be chided and dis­ci­plined all have firearms and am­mu­ni­tion. Dif­fer­ent rules. More ef­fec­tive al­liances. Re­sults may be deadly.

Iin­cred­i­ble pro­duc­tion; in­cred­i­bly tal­ented peo­ple. It was a real joy to be there. When we ar­rived, we heard a few boos, and we heard some cheers. I nudged my kids and re­minded them that that’s what free­dom sounds like.”

Por­tia, pay at­ten­tion. The heck­lers at your Clare­mont meet­ing were the sound of free­dom. You sounded like re­pres­sion, fas­cism, and nar­cis­sism. If you don’t like the sound of free­dom, Por­tia, it’s time to pack your bags and go.

Re­gard­ing (3) above: Once again, we have an ex­press ac­knowl­edge­ment that there’s no dis­tinc­tion among is­sues that elect coun­cil­lors and MPs. In fact, the PNP is say­ing here that in “car­ry­ing out ac­tiv­i­ties and spend­ing re­sources”, there should be “col­lab­o­ra­tion and trans­parency”.

So why are we wast­ing more than $2 bil­lion ($1.3b by EOJ alone) of lim­ited re­sources run­ning this des­per­ate dis­trac­tion called lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions? Al­ready, we’ve pissed away $600 mil­lion on crash-pro­gramme work. WHY? Why not have one elec­tion with sep­a­rate vot­ing on the bal­lot for PM and MP? There­after, al­low PM to pick a Cab­i­net from Ja­maica’s best avail­able ta­lent, re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion. MPs could fo­cus on rep­re­sen­ta­tion of smaller con­stituen­cies, mon­i­tor­ing Gov­ern­ment, and pass­ing laws for Ja­maica’s good gov­er­nance.

Why the stub­born re­sis­tance to change? Is there a rea­son not spelt ‘C-O-R-R-UP-T-I-O-N’?

Peace and love.



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