The long sought after merger between the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and it’s main auxiliary the Island Special Constabulary(ISCF) has been approved by the Parliament . National Security Minister Peter Bunting and Police Commissioner Owen Ellington highlighted perceived positives to be derived from the merger.
Peter Bunting: “By combining them you will release more personnel to be on the streets patrolling communities, working in crime control and crime prevention,”.
Owen Ellington :“I think the public stands to benefit greatly from it. “It should result in a net increase in the numbers that are deployed on the streets as we give up a lot of administrative and support services that are duplicated because we had to maintain two command structures.” http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Finally–Gov-t-approves-JCF–ISCF-merger-_16189683
Let’s look at the facts, after all what matters is whether the Jamaican people are getting value for money. Commissioner Ellington started off by saying quote> “It should result in a net increase in the numbers that are deployed on the streets as we give up a lot of administrative and support services that are duplicated because we had to maintain two command structures. ” The Minister of national security agrees with that assessment. May I just digress for a minute? I never quite understood why there were ever two command structures. The ISCF is an auxiliary of the JCF, if there is something in the two Acts which prevented the JCF from managing and supervising the ISCF, it could have been fixed decades ago by an act of Parliament. Anyway back to the merger. It’s difficult to argue that the merger will not free up a few more cops for the streets. However the question remains, “is Jamaica’s crime problem necessarily a result of not enough cops”? The Minister of national security stressed that there should be no problem, as salaries of ISCF members will be brought up to par with that of their contemporaries in the JCF . “The truth of the matter is that the salaries were almost identical before. There will be a marginal top up for the ISCF members; but in the scheme of things, it is not even one-tenth of the budget of the police force”.
The Minister is reaching here, to integrate all members of the ISCF into the JCF there will be cost. The minister argues it will be less than 1/10 of the annual police budget. Whichever way the Minister dices it, there is cost to the country. Either in a larger police budget or a 10% cut in police service. Unfortunately for the people after this merger is implemented they will be just as disappointed as before. The addition of another 2’000 officers will not change the country’s crime trajectory, unless 1)There are serious changes in the Agency’s investigative capabilities. 2) A complete de-annexation of the force from political interference and influence.3) A serious push to modernize the force through constant training programs aided by clear and concise policy directives understood by all members. 4) Proper supervision of younger members. 5) Removing some gazetted officers, making the agency leaner and more effective. 6) Rebuilding confidence within all communities, estranging and alienating criminals in the process. 7) Educating the public on their responsibilities as citizens. 8) Eliminating ineffective archaic laws. 9) Passing necessary laws commensurate with the country’s needs on a continuum . 10) Revamp and redo the criminal justice system , which now does little to inspire confidence in the process of justice.