One of the characteristics of growth and development is the ability to recognize one’s mistakes, admit them and move to correct them.
I am willing, in light of the foregone to say, I made a mistake in arguing for the elevation of Mister Keith Gardner to be elevated to the rank of Commissioner of Police to fill the vacancy which exists at the moment.
Mister Gardner clearly saw the article and he wrote a lengthy response detailing why he did not want to be considered. He listed failing health among the reasons why he no longer desires being considered for the Job. I applaud the gentleman for his candor and acceptance of his own frailties.
I supported Mister Gardner’s elevation on the basis of two (2) characteristics.
(1) Mister Gardner was a cop who understood the urban ghettos and how to traverse them, he had put in an immense body of work into street policing which inherently qualifies him to understand the nuances and minutia of what local law enforcement officers face particularly at a time when the streets are flooded with dangerous high powered weapons and more than enough criminals with the desire to use them for evil.
(1a) Mister Gardner had been shot, I believe on five separate occasions, as he sought to uphold the nation’s laws. I believed that mister Gardner would have an intimate understanding of the challenges other officers face in trying to enforce the laws and as such would be intimately involved in trying to secure funding for material protective accouterments and training for the men and women of the department.
(2) Keith Gardner fulfills what Jamaicans clamor for, someone with advanced degrees to head the department.
At the moment Keth (Trinity) Gardner is working on his Ph.D. and is a member of the Bar on the Island.
Given the mix of experience and academic training, I concluded that mister Gardner would be a fit candidate to hold the office of the commissioner of Police at a time when the nation needs a leader who can transform the department into a modern police department while simultaneously having an understanding of the challenges unique to Jamaican policing.
It is now clear to me that my summation of mister Gardner’s talents did not take into consideration his associations with the UWI and how his having rubbed shoulders with the nations caste elites may have informed his transformation.
In my desire to see the right person appointed to the job I chose Mister Gardiner rather than a person with mister Gardner’s bona fides and for that I apologize.
In an Article titled JCF Needs Shock Treatment written for the (Jamaica Gleaner) and published Sunday, February 11th, mister Gardner articulated a number of points including praise for one particular Assistant Commissioner of Police whom he argued had recently earned a Ph.D.
Mister Gardner who is himself working on his Ph.D. at the University of the West Indies and has earned a law degree at the same Institution has capitulated to the notion that the panacea for success is a Ph.D.
That thinking dismisses or ignores the tenure of former commissioner Carl Williams whom many within the society argued would be the end all be all for solving our nations crime problem.
I have written consistently that education is the best way to pull ourselves from poverty and deprivation.
Education in a particular discipline or two, however, does not necessarily guarantee that one will have success in a particular area like policing which requires some basic understandings.
Modern policing does require education. Leading modern police departments going forward will require a wealth of understanding of emerging threats and complexities.
William Bratton, former NYPD Commissioner is probably one of the most successful ever to lead a large department, the world’s largest to be precise and he never earned a Ph.D., he never earned a Bachelor’s degree, he earned his education in Policing.
We do need to consult with Ph.D.’s as we seek solutions on issues, we need police officers to do policing.
Mister Gardner’s associations with the elitist UWI have colored his vision and as such he has reduced his stature to just another elitist who has drunk the cool-aid and joined the club.
I fundamentally believe that the Police in Jamaica was never given a chance to do a good job if we want to be honest.
We may begin at the genesis of the department, how it was formed why it was formed, how it was viewed by the people it was supposed to serve even as the nation moved from British to self-rule.
I am sure that educated Jamaicans, (mister Gardner included) understand all too well that animus against law enforcement has always been a part of the Jamaican landscape from before his or my time. ( see https: //www.jcf.gov.jm/about-us/history) .
It’s must be noted as well that the history behind that animus lies far deeper and is far more complex than a simplistic reference to the overall problems attributed to the department today.
Any review and or criticisms of the department must be juxtaposed with the facts of its origin and not just the easy lure which is the histrionics desired in seeking to make a point.
The Force does need to change, no one could credibly deny it, yet in the urgent moment of now, the moment when finally the powers are seeing up close and personal the fruits of their labor, the disadvantaged police cannot be the fall guy.
In an article I wrote weeks ago I spoke to the transition period when stewardship of the country was handed over to the locals. I pointed to the courses of actions taken by the two political parties in balkanizing the Island into two political camps which inexorably placed the police between them as a referee without a whistle.
Despite not giving the referees a whistle the two players expects the game to be called tightly and rightly. When a call is blown, or better yet, a call is made against one party, that party lines up with the boisterous hooligans in jeering the ill-equipped referee.
With 1616 Jamaicans losing their lives last year and the Government now having to face up to its responsibilities on crime, there is an attempt at mal-attribution.
Naturally, the Government and the Opposition, are quite comfortable with using their surrogates in Academia (a-la Anthony Harriott)
and indeed at all levels of the food chain to damage the JCF in a way they do not want to aggressively do it themselves, considering the power of the JCF as a voting block.
Whatever ails the JCF is not insurmountable, those ailments did not occur overnight, they were enhanced by both political parties.
For any political leader or their acolytes to advance a theory that Government over the decades has not been instrumental in the state of affairs today is disingenuous. It renders them unworthy of serious consideration as credible stakeholder in the debate.
Every year almost 600 officers leave the JCF on their own volition, outside retirement.
That alone is proof that young men and women are uncomfortable with what they see. To suggest that these structural deficiencies are somehow the fault of the men and women of the force is at its heart ill-informed.
Police officers who leave the JCF and join other departments even within the CARICOM region are doing just fine.
Keith Gardner argues…….. The majority of honest police personnel at all ranks cannot afford to live in denial. Any writer on police corruption will tell you that the first step to addressing police corruption is the admission that it exists. The next step is to devise plans on how to eradicate corruption at every level.
The JCF, unlike any other police department, has a phalanx of oversight agencies, (six to be exact) , additionally, there is a long line of opportunistic predators parading as human rights advocates who enhance the continuous drumbeat about how bad the police department is.
Mister Gardner and other recent converts to the hifalutin UWI concept of policing should try offering a word of encouragement and use their time to advocate for better pay and working conditions for the men and women of the department and yes demand that the referees get a damn whistle so that they can continue to be impactful on the field of play.
It is about time that those who would comment on our country’s state of affairs stop drinking the cool-aid out of the UWI and at least do some research or better yet not ignore the factual data of our country’s sordid political past.