It’s Time Jamaica Respect It’s Police Officers

From con­trib­u­tor Conrad Tucker.

Members of JCF Must be Respected.

Thirty years ago, I migrat­ed from Jamaica to Toronto, Canada, it was the first time I left the shores of Jamaica I was awestruck by the diver­si­ty of the city.
I was also tak­en aback by the vibran­cy of the black com­mu­ni­ty, and the impact and con­tri­bu­tions they have made to this remark­able city, pri­or to my arrival here.

Having said that, the black com­mu­ni­ty was a favourite tar­get for Toronto pre­dom­i­nant­ly white police ser­vice. We felt that we were tar­get­ed because of who we were, and sev­er­al young black men were shot and killed by the police, most­ly under ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances.
A lot has changed since 1988, Toronto has grown expo­nen­tial­ly in almost every facet , it’s now the fourth largest city in the North America and is con­sid­ered the most diverse city on the plan­et.

The major­i­ty of the mem­bers of the police ser­vice are still white, which does­n’t tru­ly reflect our diver­si­ty. However, on April 17, 2015, his­to­ry was made when Mark Saunders a black man of Jamaican lin­eage was appoint­ed the first black police chief in the ser­vices’ 181 year his­to­ry.
Saunders who was born in England, is a vet­er­an of the ser­vice and has served in numer­ous capac­i­ties over his thir­ty plus years.
We as a peo­ple in this city have come a long way, but I nev­er envi­sion that in my life­time I would see a black police chief in Toronto.

We have black politi­cians, but those folks are elect­ed by the peo­ple, the chief on the oth­er hand, is select­ed by the police ser­vices board. And although the board­’s eth­nic make­up is diverse, I was still not expect­ing the appoint­ment of a black chief. To see that come to fruition was a major devel­op­ment for blacks in this city and a very proud moment for our com­mu­ni­ty.

Toronto Police Service Transformation Since then, Toronto Police Service has under­gone a major trans­for­ma­tion to make the ser­vice more lean. The police board and the may­or want the ser­vice to change with the times, and so, they believe they can’t con­tin­ue with sta­tus quo.
Among oth­er things, the board is a pro­po­nent of using less per­son­nel and rely­ing more on tech­nol­o­gy to car­ry out their duties.

Chief Mark Saunders

One of their pri­ma­ry con­cerns is the annu­al oper­at­ing bud­get, which has grown expo­nen­tial­ly to $M1005.1, in 2017.
Most of the mon­ey is paid in salary, so a strat­e­gy to shrink the bud­get evolved, they have decid­ed not hire any new offi­cers in 2017.
Backed by the police union, mem­bers of the ser­vice have become dis­grun­tled and began com­plain­ing that they are short staffed and over-worked. The offi­cers are argu­ing that their lives are at risk, and the pub­lic is under­served.

They have been cam­paign­ing through the media that their con­cerns have fall­en on deaf ears, and have decid­ed to have a no-con­fi­dence vote against Chief Saunders. This vote is sym­bol­ic, and will not remove Saunders as Chief. But doing this will ensure that their con­cerns will be addressed more expe­di­tious­ly.

Should Members of the JCF Do Likewise? Toronto Police Service is mod­ern, equipped with some of the best tech­nol­o­gy, the offi­cer are well paid with an excel­lent pen­sion, they worked in a law-abid­ing soci­ety and oper­ate inde­pen­dent­ly of any polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence. On the oth­er side of the spec­trum, mem­bers of the JCF, worked in squalid con­di­tions, hard­ly any mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy, are gross­ly under­paid, gets a measly pen­sion upon retire­ment and have to police some of the most vicious peo­ple on the plan­et, who have no regards for the rules of law.

Toronto Police offi­cers

And yet, they still per­form their duties under these con­di­tions.
I think it’s time for mem­bers of the JCF to have a stronger voice to stand up to the politi­cians and demand bet­ter pay, bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, which includes reli­able ser­vice vehi­cles and bet­ter bar­racks to sleep in.
Recently, I received a video on WhatsApp, show­ing a roost­er crow­ing in rafters of in the bar­rack room of a police sta­tion. The offi­cer who made the video, made light of the fact they he was try­ing to get some rest and was awak­en by the crow­ing roost­er.
It’s shame­ful to think that police offi­cers are treat­ed like this by the gov­ern­ment, and when they failed they are mer­ci­less­ly crit­i­cized, mean­while they are the ones risk­ing their lives to pro­tect those of their crit­ics.

Look at the uphill bat­tle the Jamaica Police Federation is fight­ing for its mem­ber for a long over­due salary increase. I con­vert­ed the Jamaica dol­lar to Canadian and U.S. cur­ren­cies and what they are pay­ing police offi­cers in Jamaica is an insult, lit­er­al­ly a fias­co. Yet, the pub­lic demand so much of them, when they are ill-equipped to car­ry out their duties. They work in sub-human con­di­tions, abused by the pub­lic and is a scape­goat for cor­rup­tion in Jamaica.

They even passed a leg­is­la­tion which threat­ens to send mem­bers to prison if they leave with­out giv­ing six months notice. These dra­con­ian mea­sures will dis­cour­age smart peo­ple from join­ing the force and encour­age the exo­dus of per­son­nel who real­ize that being a cop in Jamaica isn’t worth it.
Compared to their Jamaican coun­ter­part, Toronto police offi­cers are work­ing in lux­u­ry, rel­a­tive­ly speak­ing.

Jamaican police offi­cers

Nevertheless, they have launched a no-con­fi­dence vote against their chief. Meanwhile, my for­mer col­leagues are threat­ened with impris­on­ment if they leave the force with­out prop­er noti­fi­ca­tion. If only these Toronto cops come to their sens­es and real­ize how good they have it.
Look at the dichoto­my, the poor Jamaican cops who are in the crosshairs of Jamaican gun­men are not allowed to leave the force on their own voli­tion and cops here in Toronto who seem­ing­ly have every­thing are whin­ing and com­plain­ing about their work­ing con­di­tions while being hand­some­ly com­pen­sat­ed.

The time has come for some con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenges for the rights of police offi­cers in Jamaica, who are con­trolled by sense­less laws and reg­u­la­tions. Some of these laws are anti­quat­ed, and do not reflect the mod­ern times we are liv­ing in.

They should be allowed to strike or protest just like any oth­er employ­ee of the gov­ern­ment. Although sym­bol­ic, the Jamaican police should emu­late their Toronto coun­ter­part and have a no-con­fi­dence vote against The Minister of National Security, whose per­for­mance has been abysmal. His poor man­age­ment of the crime sit­u­a­tion in Jamaica and his bla­tant attack on for­mer com­mis­sion­er Quallo are strong evi­dence of his fail­ures.
Enough is enough.

2 thoughts on “It’s Time Jamaica Respect It’s Police Officers

  1. Am a for­mer Police offi­cer with some twen­ty sev­en years of ser­vice, I had to run like am mad a few months ago, sim­ply because of the real­iza­tion that am get­ting old­er and also get­ting poor­er. There are so many things that are wrong but all is not lost,.……

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