I spoke to a friend recently who is a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force(JCF) he has been a cop since 1987, hard-working disciplined, he has been a Sargent for over a decade, at the ripe old age of 44 he is now looking to leave the job he loves because he is stuck. The fact is that he does not kiss up, he’s not into politics, and he is not connected. Every day we read of cops doing things we would be alarmed at even if they were committed by regular criminals. I recall an instructor asking the class while I was on CIB course which offense was on the books that police officers had not committed? We remained silent, the more we thought about it the longer the silence grew, this was back in 1991. The point of all this is that even as the force is struggling with an image that is badly in need of resuscitation and repair, it continues to frustrate good officers, forcing them to leave for greener pastures. As an Agency the JCF has an abnormally high attrition rate, higher that any other agency in the country. This begs the question why? If as some say that police officers are ego-maniacal lightweights who gets high on the power, why does officers give up that power so freely?
I joined the JCF in 1982, passed grade 1 exams at 2 years service, no promotion.Passed grade 2 at 4 years service, no promotion .I was not made acting corporal until about 7 years service, despite passing the exam at 2 years service, and had already passed the grade 2 years earlier. I went on CIB course , as well as qualified and passed the accelerated exams and the interview, had a clean record with numerous commendations, yet I wasn’t promoted Corporal until I had decided to leave at 9 years plus service. My sin I did not take no bull and I did not kiss ass. I was lauded by several Judges as a fine example of what a good and competent police Officer should be. Their Honors, Basil Reid, Donald Macintosh, His wife her Honor Mrs Marva Macintosh were some of the Senior Judges who had incredibly high praise for not just my work , or case preparation, but the way I testified in court. Many Lawyers were terrified to face me and this is no idle boast, it is historical fact, not intended as puffery , just to make the point.
In fairness to trail lawyers who I am particularly hard on today, I have friends who told me in confidence if I ever needed a lawyer, they would represent me pro-bono, they know themselves, they are practicing today.The only people who could not appreciate the value of my work were the people whose job it was to do so, well at least some of them.
There are many others who left the JCF, or more appropriately the JCF left them, because of poor leadership on the part of senior officers who were themselves promoted to positions they were not qualified or equipped for. I write this because it important to note that the police department as an entity, has no other commodity on which to trade except its human resource. Yet one of the greatest failure of the JCF is it’s continued inability to adequately promote and exploit that which is it’s greatest asset.
A simple push-poll of former members, would support my assertion, many former members irrespective of where they emigrated to, are doing exponentially better for themselves and their families than they ever did serving in the JCF. We always spoke to the nobility of the Agency,I sometimes wonder whether we are not referring to the way we would have liked it to be rather than the way it actually is?