Having listened to Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake’s speech to graduating traffic cops I was stunned. Yet his rambling charge to the junior officers convinced me that with leadership like Blakes, the country is in for a rough future.
The nation’s streets are a chaotic mess of unruly drivers which requires a much more stringent enforcement régime yet Blake’s charge to the graduating officers pretty much amounted to rolling over and allowing the status quo.
Blake a senior officer bearing the title of deputy commissioner[a heartbeat from the commissioner’s chair] failed to recognize a fundamental flaw in the arguments he proffered to the men and women under his command.
Policing is not like the military.
Each and every officer makes decisions to arrest or not on their own volition. The last joined constable’s power of arrest is no less than that of the chief constable [the commissioner of police].
The actions each constable takes in their daily routine must be backed up and supported by the laws of Jamaica. As a consequence, each constable is responsible for the fallout from his/her actions if they are outside the bounds of what the laws allow.
Police departments can develop policies but they cannot change laws, neither do commanders [a‑la], Clifford Blake has authority under the law to direct officers [under his command or not] to circumvent their own judgments with his desire for less enforcement and a more discretionary approach to their jobs.
I was not surprised that Blake’s rambling address would be geared at chiding officers for doing their duties, at a time when the country needs much more officers who are dedicated to enforcing the nation’s laws instead of cutting deals or turning a blind eye to the carnage.
There is always a need to exercise discretion yet the police officers on the ground should not be in the business of cutting slack to a woman going to church driving an unregistered automobile.
What if she hit and injured or God forbid, kill someone, what then would Blake do or say, would he step to the fore and defend that junior cop who cut that motorist some slack?
Or would Clifford Blake be first in line to talk about junior officers not following the law as is his modus operandi?
Many who know Clifford Blake tells me that is his modus operandi.
One officer told me of his career coming to a screeching halt because he wrote a traffic ticket for Robot Car owned by Blake years ago, according to the officer Blake was an inspector at the time.
It seems to me that it is that kind of connivance which Blake brought to the Commissioner Rank and to that traffic officers graduation.
What does it say about the JCF, at a time when the country is suffocating from crime, that a senior commander who has operational responsibility for the overall country wants concession as against enforcement?
It is against this background that this publication comes to the position that the senior management of the force is not up to the job of returning the country to any degree of safety or is far too compromised to do so.
It is against that background that it may be time to end the employment of every single officer above the rank of Inspector and below the Commissioner of Police and have a seasoned panel of police commanders from respected police departments in the United States or Canada interview applicants from those who wish to rejoin the JCF as commanders.
The nation needs to get better returns on its investments, this is where the problem lies, it is where it has always lain. At the most senior levels of the force.
As I have said repeatedly s**t does not flow upstream. The rot and lack of leadership are in the senior core of the police department not in the rank and file.
♦It has always been senior officers who continue to drive home the police cars which should patrol the streets even though they receive allowances for travel.
♦It has always been senior officers who stood in the way of enforcement of our laws through their affiliations with lawbreakers and those in the society who believe the laws should not apply to them.
♦It was always senior officers who received envelopes stuffed with cash from law-breakers effectively eroding the authority of the junior officers on the streets who do actual policing.
♦It was always senior officers who colluded with politicians to transfer hard working cops from divisions because gunmen loyal to the politicians are being hounded.
♦It was always senior officers who lack leadership and continuity of focus which affects not just enforcement but the outcome of investigations.
♦It was always senior officers who lacked leadership skills forcing the high attrition that has plagued the force.
♦It is the incompetence of senior officers which caused the traffic pile-up on the sole highway leading into the (NMIA)inconveniencing the traveling public greatly.
♦ It is the senior officer’s corp which has not demonstrated the necessary policing techniques commensurate with 21st-century crime fighting.
With that understanding, the time has come to have greater accountability from that group of public servants.
Given a situation in which the Government adopts the position I articulate it would be shocking to see the number of senior officers who would fail to qualify for the positions they now hold.