There is ample evidence in the public’s domain that tells both sides of the story which now bedevils Jamaica.I refer to allegations of police perceived excess. Many do not use the word perceive because it does not fit the story they want to tell. Others who want change will like to get both sides out, so that the change we seek will be one all can live with. Anyone who have fish as pets, know that the water within the aquarium has to be changed from time to time, however one would be mindful never to totally remove all of the original water putting his fish in an alien environment. This blog is not about fish despite my love of fish. It is about the conversation I would like to have with you about something that needs to be changed as we seek desperately to keep it because without it we are doomed.
Jamaica’s police force has a public relations problem, this is nothing new . For decades the force through inept management has allowed itself to be caricatured into a woefully inept shoot-first ask questions later bunch of half-wits. The powers which created and maintained the Agency knew exactly how to control the force as an entity through divide and rule. As I have stated before rich people from upper St. Andrew do not allow their children to join the JCF . For the most part children of inner city communities are also disallowed largely because of their zip code. This leaves the bulk of the force’s enlistment to children of working poor people from rural parishes.
To the best of my knowledge these are not people who are exposed to killings and I’m darn sure are not trained to wantonly kill people at the Police academy. Which brings us to the facts: Jamaicans living in rural areas of the Island up to recent times , before the influx of criminals running from Kingston, were peace-loving people . These were people who celebrated someone becoming a bus driver from their District. So when a member of their community become a nurse, teacher , or yes a police officer they are very proud.
So what causes police officers born and raised by rural christian folks of modest means to become what some would have you believe to be callous mean killing machines? I ran across this article in the Jamaica Observer I would like to link you to.jamaicaobserver.com The Article I thought revealed an interesting truth , a truth I have toiled to bring to the fore in these blogs. That truth is that police kill people wrongfully , when that happen they should fess up , and the family of the deceased person must be treated with the utmost care and empathy, where possible maximum compensation must be made to the family with a view to try to ease the pain. This must be done taking into consideration the limited resources the country has at its disposal , but taking into account that no amount of money may adequately compensate for the life of a loved one.
With that said a greater emphasis must be placed on the conditions under which our police officers work, the dangers they face and the level of support they get in carrying out their duties. I have written at length in previous blogs as to the reason officers are forced to use force, and in many cases deadly force. I left the police force from as far back as 1991. Back then we faced M-16 assault rifles, shot guns, hand guns and on the rare occasion other automatic weaponry.
Despite the dangers we faced then , it pales in comparison to the proliferation and velocity of weaponry that the country is now awash in. Despite slight improvements made in protective gear available to them, police officers face vastly amplified and more dangerous situations because of the sheer number of guns on the streets. The velocity of weapons available to murderers is terrifying, and the criminals who own them have no compunction about using them on whomever they chose, to include police officers.
As I alluded to previously, the powers which put the force together did not intend to have a force that would one day be populated with intelligent people who could talk back or demand proper working conditions. They never foresaw a force which would see itself on par with other Jamaicans irrespective of their station. After all the police were night watchmen appointed to serve Port Royal, Kingston, Saint Catherine, and Saint Andrew. After the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865 the need for an organized police force became more urgent and 984 people were commissioned into a police force under an Inspector General appointed by the British governor.
Many of Jamaica’s so-called upper class still cannot visualize members of the police force as their equals, and as such they fight any and every effort of the police to organize or lobby for better working conditions , or worse investigate them when they are accused of impropriety.
One such group is the Editorial board of the Daily Gleaner:
THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE JAMAICA DAILY GLEANER HAS TAKEN A STRIKINGLY COWARDLY STANCE AGAINST JAMAICA’S POLICE OFFICERS , DESPITE KNOWING THE INFORMATION THEY PRINT ARE WOEFULLY DISHONEST.
Two weeks in succession their editorial page has carried bold headlines in support of INDECOM ‘s Terrence Williams without addressing the heart of the discontent of the police groups. The Editorial board chose instead to make claims against the police not even Williams himself has made, at least publicly. They have characterized the grouse of the police regarding Williams’ attendance at the press conference as quote” ludicrous”. As I did the first time they wrote their headline in support of Williams ,I again called them on their disingenuous biased and lying stance in support of Williams. See article here.jamaicagleaner.com The Editorial board of the Gleaner obviously have no greater contribution to make to nation building than lies innuendos, and disinformation, and as such it has doubled down on the garbage it published days before . The idea it seem ,at least in their view is ,if they keep repeating a lie it will somehow become truth.
Everyone now have an opinion from University professors to medical doctors to newspaper editors , everyone is entitled to their opinion, maybe it’s good that the conversation has picked up in earnest. Maybe Jamaicans will see that their survival is tied to the rule of law and irrespective of who enforces the laws , the title is the same POLICE. Those within the society who have a problem adhering to the rule of law, whether they are Editors , Politicians lawyers or whomever , know this, the police is going nowhere. Get used to it , obey the laws, that’s it. Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich this week surrendered to federal authorities, he commenced serving a 14 year term in federal prison.He was convicted of corruption stemming from his attempts to sell the senate seat once held by now President Barack Obama. Rod Blagojevich was a governor , and a lawyer, he joined a long list of once powerful men who thought they were above the law . I would suggest the high and mighty in Jamaica take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and examine what happened to Christopher (Dudus) Coke, a man vastly more powerful than they ever will be . The way things used to be soon will be no more.
Many argue that the police voted overwhelmingly for Portia and her party, hence their request for her to intervene into the impasse between INDECOM and themselves. I am unsure how the village lawyers know how people voted. But with that said I hope for their sakes the police are not awaiting a response from either Bunting or Miller that will have any value to them as a group. This government has no clue and are simply in it for what they can rip for themselves. A better day is coming to Jamaica, and it means adherence to the rule of law, get used to it.