I wonder from time to time who exactly is at the wheel of Government in Jamaica?
On other occasions, I am appalled at the lack of awareness of the so-called educated people on critical issues affecting our country.
Take for instance a recent announcement by the University of the West Indies that it intends to help to train cops in certain critical areas.
According to local media reporting guest at an event at the University in which a Memorandum of understanding was signed were aghast at figures revealed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake.
Which leads me to wonder who are these people and where do they live that they would be shocked at these revelations, Jamaica is a tiny country are they residents of Uranus?
Under the MOU, the university will provide lodging for 300 JCF recruits for a six-month period, twice per year, among other provisions while they are in training.
At center stage was the vexing issue of mass attrition which has plagued the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
This issue has been a longstanding issue for the Agency despite the critical lack of jobs in the country officers leave at an alarming rate, usually seeking better opportunities, sometimes within the CAROICOM region which does not necessarilyly mean more money.
This puts to lie the notion that the reasons officers leave the JCF are solely economic. I will come back to this.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake revealed that the JCF’s current establishment stands at 14,092, but their working strength as of the reporting was 11,433.
Blake told the gathering In 2015, the JCF graduated 244 persons and during that same time 514 left the agency through resignation, retirement, and dismissal, and in 2016 we graduated into the agency 495 persons (and) last year 544 persons exited the agency, so we continue to operate at a deficit.”
He highlighted a recent instance where the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force welcomed 13 new members, 12 of whom were former members of the JCF.
What that means is that these Jamaican officers are not running away from policing, they are running away policing in Jamaica.
In fact, as I was writing this a young friend of mine who just happened to be one of the bright young officers who received crime scene training walked in to see me.
I told him what I was working on and he told me “Mike officers are leaving the force and they aren’t even leaving the Island”.
He stridently rubbished DCP Clifford Blake’s assertion that the primary reasons cops are leaving are primarily for economic reasons.
He lamented the disconnect between the Commissioned Ranks and the Rank and file. The rank and file he remarked feels it is largely on its own
The Gazetted officers he lamented, are largely as disconnected from the rank and file officers who do the work, as the country is viscerally anti-police.
To the best of my recollection, many of those gazetted officers are graduates of the University of the West Indies, and other colleges.
It is important to look at these numbers as the Government takes action to surreptitiously force police officers to serve a prescribed length of time before they can leave and even thereafter must inform the force six (6) months in advance of leaving.
The reasons the Government gave through the hierarchy of the JCF for the move which is being challenged in court are so flimsy they are laughable.
If ever there was a means toward discouraging talented free people from getting involved in public service for the right reasons this is it.
People are motivated by their convictions. I was motivated by my convictions when I signed up to serve but I darn sure wouldn’t have served if I was constrained by archaic rules which limit and infringes on my God-given rights and freedoms which certainly were not bestowed upon me by a tin-pan Government but by my creator.
Said Blake, “So not only do we continue to lose people, we continue to lose some of our best persons,” he said. “We need to look at a retention strategy to see how do we keep our members in the organization.”
He went on, “it is clear that several areas such as job satisfaction, salary, better working conditions, promotion, among others need to be critically examined”.
So, on the one hand, Blake talks about a retention policy which is necessary, he named some of the things which should be considered ,as job satisfaction, salary, better working conditions, promotion, among others.
Why then would the JCF co-opt the regressive policy of the Government which will have the opposite effect of retaining good officers without a fight?
The stark reality is that the leaky old bucket which is the JCF is losing more water than it is taking in.
The Andrew Holness Special Zones assault on rank and file members which it purports will stop attrition will inexorably lead to a massive drop off of potential recruits who do not wish to be constrained against their will.
And secondly, will hasten those already in the agency to seek out the exits.
The logical conclusions to all of this, as this writer has stated categorically before, is that the Holness Government is on a mission to dismantle the JCF.
Andrew Holness and the anti-police forces behind him know full well what they are doing, they would dismantle the JCF this minute if they could get away with it.
Nevertheless, this anti-police cabal knows that if they make the agency sufficiently unattractive no one will want to join and those already in will be running for the exits. Using that strategy it will only be a matter of time before the agency collapses.
It is like Trump’s assault on the affordable care act passed by his predecessor, he argues it is dying, on other occasions he says it’s dead.
Only that it’s neither dead nor dying but it will if the safeguards built in to support its existence and growth are not maintained it will ultimately die.
Guess who has the power to remove some of those safeguards?
The attempt to use the threat of prison as a means to keep cops in the JCF is a slick sleight of hand which on the face of it gives the appearance that it is designed to help but will have the opposite effect.
If of course, you can get past the presumptuous and cheeky nature of the prospect of cops being imprisoned because they made up their minds they did not want to be a part of policing a country that does not respect the rule of law any longer.
Clifford Blake sees it, at least his comments seem to indicate he understand it Quote” it is clear that several areas such as job satisfaction, salary, better working conditions, promotion, among others need to be critically examined.”
If Clifford Blake knows it Andrew Holness knows it. The question is who exactly are the people behind Holness who are working to destroy the Police force?
The effort of the University, in this case, is to be commended, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI, Mona Professor Archibald McDonald said modern policing calls for not just fighting but also thinking men and women, and so the UWI’s response to the crime situation is not one of fear and retreat but proactive solutions.
He said that the university will aim to take the police force to their full-service capacity of 14,000 through the training of 300 recruits every six months, which will take about three years to achieve.
“This will provide the JCF with 600 graduates per year to help negate the attrition rate,” he said. “Students will be housed in residence during the period of training on the Mona campus and lecture rooms will be provided and configured where necessary.”
As commendable as this approach is the real issue is not about the full complement of the force.
The issue of import is the conditions in the country which causes people who bother to sign up, go through the training then almost immediately turn their backs on the agency in short order.
That is the issue, if the University does not understand this then it too is a part of the problem.