At the top of the list of things being said in this latest round of demands by rank and file police officers for better wages is the arguments that wages should be tied to performance.
As a general rule, we Jamaicans are well known for offering up opinions on everything even when we haven’t bothered to take a minute to avail ourselves of the facts.
One person argued quote: Six/seven of every ten murders in Jamaica go unsolved! Yet, police, classified as an Essential Service, had embraced industrial action for better wages. Any pay increase should be tied to tangible performance as a crime mitigation strategy.…basic pay for all police but those in divisions where measurable results are recorded, a better compensation package should be offered after the fact, say at the end of the year.”
Like every other area of an economy, including the Jamaican economy, policing operates on a top-down system.
Meaning that for all intents and purposes the average worker, save and apart from those in the boardrooms are mere pawns on the chessboard to be moved around at the whim and behest of those in control.
To suppose that as a consequence of high crime numbers members of the police rank and file ought not to receive better remunerations ignores the fundamentals of that basic fact.
The vast disparity between the salaries of the gazetted Ranks (Assistant Superintendent to the Commissioner of police) is as a result of their designation in the system.
Contrary to what many believe, including many rank-and-file police officers, police officers from the rank of constable to Inspector are not civil servants.
Civil service workers salaries are calculated and approached quite differently.
For example, the salaries of gazetted members of the police department will necessarily be in the same grouping as Doctors, Parliamentary secretaries, and members of the judiciary and other such groups of workers.
There is a reason when a team performs poorly that upper management or ownership does not fire the team. After all the team is the commodity no matter how flawed it is you do not disband the team.
So the coaching staff has to go.
A new coaching staff brings new ideas and methodologies and apply them to the team, with new ideas and methods it may be necessary to trade part of the team or even retire others.
We arrive at better outcomes when we bring new ideas to the table and apply best practices which are easily measurable.
The JCF hierarchy has done a tremendous disservice to both the JCF, the junior members and to the nation on a whole as a result of its corrupt practices and it’s less than perfect operational procedures.
Through it’s steadfast attachment to both political parties, corrupt practices and it’s incomprehensible incompetence and inability to operate as a modern police department, the police high command has managed to destroy the reputation of the agency and the morale of its junior members.
As a result of that 50 junior officers leave the force each month.
That is almost 2 officers per day.
A top to bottom review is needed to determine a new force structure.
That review should begin with an understanding of the differing roles we ask our police to play in today’s society and going into the future.
It is armed with that understanding that policymakers will come to a decision on whether or not the current level of gazetted officers in the department is actually needed.
The level of ineffectiveness must categorically be laid at the feet of those who lead the department.
In the same way, many in the lower ranks through their actions necessitated INDECOM and other detractors, the gazetted ranks have brought the operational effectiveness of the force into serious question.
Officers on the ground carry out their functions as commanded. Whatever the shortcoming the senior levels must be held accountable for breakdowns and lack of results as it relates to crime statistics.
None of it in any way negates the very valid and urgent need for officers to be paid a livable wage.
Officers place their lives on the line every day something no other category of workers is asked to do.
As a consequence, we must hold them accountable for their actions when they mess up but we owe them a greater debt of gratitude solely on the basis of what we have asked them to do for us, in many of those cases involving events which we are unable or willing to do for ourselves.
That level of gratitude must begin with a fair level of respect for our officers and what they do.
Let us set aside the contemptuous and disrespectful diatribes uttered from behind the relative safety of computer screens and begin to support our law enforcement officers.
I have long called for a restructuring of the police force beginning with the management structure.
Having served in the department for roughly a decade I have seen first hand the incompetence and the lack of direction or follow through that exist in the leadership of the JCF.
That is why even after sitting and passing the accelerated exams in 91 I too decided that I would not be having a career in the JCF.
I realized then, what many young officers do today, That’s why I headed for the exit, it is why they run for the exits now.
Policing in Jamaica is a thankless job which despite one’s best efforts, is gauranteed to result in only marginal positive results.
Perhaps, most importantly it is [servitude]to an ungrateful nation.
The JCF has long been a stepping stone for many poor young people and it’s not about to change anytime soon.
The effectiveness of the police cannot be measured solely on the basis of what appears on the stat sheets however important it is to have declining crime numbers.
Crime is not the prerogative of the police alone the sooner Jamaicans awake to those realities the better off they will be in this fight against criminals.