In de­fence of Com­mish Quallo

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Keith Gard­ner Keith Gard­ner is an at­tor­ney-at-law and di­rec­tor of se­cu­rity at the UWI, Mona. He served the JCF for more than four decades. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

SE­CU­RITY IS the foun­da­tion on which so­ci­eties dat­ing back to early civil­i­sa­tion were built. To­day, se­cu­rity is re­garded as the foun­da­tion on which firms, in­dus­tries, and na­tions are built.

If that foun­da­tion is faulty, the struc­ture is li­able to col­lapse. If a gov­ern­ment is un­able to pro­vide se­cu­rity at every part of its ge­o­graph­i­cal bor­ders, the re­sult may be in­creased vul­ner­a­bil­ity to threats from in­vad­ing forces.

The guns, drugs and lotto scam­ming are multi­bil­lion-dol­lar crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties that, in some cases, sur­pass the GDP of small­is­land states, such as those mem­ber states in CARICOM. Their open bor­ders are largely un­pro­tected, their rel­e­vant prox­im­ity to each other and to South Amer­ica in­creases their vul­ner­a­bil­ity. This is but­tressed by glob­al­i­sa­tion with its rapid in­crease in tech­nol­ogy, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and travel, which re­duce ter­ri­to­rial bor­ders to a mere con­struct of the hu­man mind.

CRUEL CRIM­I­NAL

In Ja­maica, these threats are com­pounded by cer­tain crim­i­nal ac­tors who are among the most cruel in the world. Armed with high-pow­ered au­to­matic ri­fles and semi-au­to­matic pis­tols, they form them­selves into crim­i­nal gangs that are hired by scam­mers, ganja farm­ers, per­sons seek­ing reprisal (mur­der for hire), the war for turf and more guns and drugs.

The com­plex­ity of these heinous crimes, which in­clude misog­yny, mur­der and at­tacks on our women and chil­dren, cre­ate a fear in the so­ci­ety that is de­bil­i­tat­ing. The re­sults are clear and present.

First, the crime rate scares away po­ten­tial in­vestors. Sec­ond, pro­duc­tiv­ity is re­duced as per­sons be­come vir­tual pris­on­ers in their homes for fear of be­ing at­tacked on our roads.

The JCF is un­der the lead­er­ship of a com­mis­sioner of po­lice, who is tasked with the se­cu­rity of our na­tion. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the com­mis­sioner to trans­late the se­cu­rity pol­icy of the gov­ern­ment into op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties that will en­hance the se­cu­rity of our na­tion. These may in­clude the sur­veil­lance of crim­i­nal gangs with the ob­ject of dis­man­tling them, the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, gath­er­ing of ev­i­dence, and the pre­sen­ta­tion of the ev­i­dence which will re­sult in the con­vic­tion of crim­i­nal ac­tors.

The com­mis­sioner must also de­velop poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to deal with the bur­geon­ing traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties on our streets that will ne­ces­si­tate spe­cial en­force­ment pro­grammes that must in­clude in­ter­cep­tion. He also has to con­vince gov­ern­ment to pro­vide the re­sources that are crit­i­cally needed to en­able of­fi­cers to ac­com­plish their mis­sion.

Then there are the nu­mer­ous meet­ings among mem­bers of the force and civil so­ci­ety which are di­rected not only at com­mu­ni­cat­ing his poli­cies, strate­gies and plans, but also to win the con­fi­dence of stake­hold­ers. This is why the com­mis­sioner needs to have at his dis­posal, at the port­fo­lio level, a cadre of men and women who are com­pe­tent in their re­spec­tive fields. Crit­i­cal to this man­age­ment struc­ture is the role of the area of­fi­cer, whose main role is to trans­late and con­vey the com­mis­sioner’s poli­cies and ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ci­sions to the di­vi­sional and branch com­man­ders.

The Bri­tish over­seas of­fi­cers con­tracted by the Ja­maican Gov­ern­ment at the turn of the mil­len­nium brought with them poli­cies from the for­mer colo­nial masters that could never be repli­cated in Ja­maica, for no other rea­son than the ab­sence of the fi­nan­cial re­sources to sup­port the no­tion such as di­vi­sional pri­macy, which im­plies that the di­vi­sional com­man­der must have greater au­ton­omy over his di­vi­sion with lit­tle in­ter­ven­tion from the High Com­mand. They also rec­om­mended that area com­man­ders that do not ex­ist in their own forces over­seas should be abol­ished.

Well, they have all but gone back to their home­land, leav­ing very lit­tle ev­i­dence of their con­tri­bu­tion to the force, de­spite the large salaries and up­scale ac­com­mo­da­tion that was part of their re­mu­ner­a­tion. Good rid­dance!

There was no bath-wa­ter with which to throw out these ba­bies, at least one of whom has been busily en­gaged in cross-con­ti­nent pre­sen­ta­tions crit­i­cis­ing the JCF while fail­ing to ex­plain the role the Bri­tish over­seas of­fi­cers played in ad­vanc­ing the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary.

Punc­tu­al­ity is im­por­tant, as the com­mis­sioner must be briefed ei­ther through the area of­fi­cers or his rep­re­sen­ta­tive every morn­ing be­fore 8:30 a.m. and in emer­gen­cies such as se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents, fa­tal shoot­ings, demon­stra­tions, etc., he must be briefed in real time.

GIVE OF­FI­CERS WORK

Com­mis­sioner Quallo can­not be ex­pected to be on the street to fight crime. That is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the po­lice­men and po­lice­women on the front line, who must not only be prop­erly ac­counted for, but prop­erly su­per­vised. The of­fi­cers who have been placed in cosy of­fices with lit­tle or noth­ing to do and com­monly re­ferred to in the force as be­ing un­der ‘shade trees’ must be given work to do. They must be sent out into the field. Too many of­fi­cers have been pro­moted who have never had a bead of sweat down their brow while per­form­ing po­lice du­ties. If Com­mis­sioner Quallo fails, it will be be­cause of his fail­ure to dis­lodge those square pegs from round holes.

Mem­bers of the force must re­alise that they do not own pub­lic of­fices. They are merely hold­ers in tran­si­tion un­til it is ei­ther time to move on or move out. Years ago, trans­fers were so fast and fu­ri­ous that one did not have time to un­pack their cer­tifi­cates or place their names on their of­fice doors. When that time comes, it is hoped that they will be able to point to their con­tri­bu­tion to the force’s ad­vance­ment in gen­eral and to the se­cu­rity of the na­tion in par­tic­u­lar.

In­stead of con­demn­ing the com­mis­sioner pub­licly, we can talk to him by phone, emails and let­ters, giv­ing him sugges­tions and ideas.

GUEST COLUM­NIST

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