WHY SINGLE OUT HUNTS BAY?
For decades the dress code of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has been a sore subject for members of that police department.
For rank and file officers who are required to go out and make arrests and be responsive to the requirements of modern-day policing, the impracticality of the uniform is a real issue.
The uniform still being worn by the police has not kept pace with the ever-evolving face of policing.
The Federation which acts as a de facto union for rank and file officers certainly have not been as strident as it should be in lobbying for a more practical work dress for its members.
Additionally, the uniform worn by senior members from Inspector to Commissioner depicts an image that they are not interested in doing police work or worse that they are above actual policing.
In police departments across the world, police officers wear full dress uniform with utility belt replete with accouterments of the trade. This is true of the last joined guy or girl all the way to the chief of the department.
There is no logical reason for the uniform still in existence except that this is the uniform which they have had for decades.
I think it is safe to say that there are many things which we have had for decades which aren’t working so well, that includes some of our laws.
Not only is the uniform of the police ceremonial and impractical the hierarchy of the force in typical utter obstinacy continue to insist on the wearing of dress uniform as opposed to the blue denim even in cases where it is a danger to officer’s lives.
I will come back to that.
There are officers who are called upon to take on criminals in ways other police officers are not.
This has been true throughout the nations short history, it will be true as long as this nation exists, it is simply the way things work.
This is not unique to Jamaica, it is standard procedure in police departments across the world.
That is the reason two officers who have had different experiences serving in the same department will have different opinions in discussions on aspects of the very same department.
Some of those special functions include the Mobile Reserve officers, CIB, and other officers, also there are officers who are asked to penetrate deep into depressed communities and bring policing to those residents.
In depressed communities all across the country and in places like Riverton City and others within the Hunts Bay police area of responsibility.
Some of these officers are asked to ride motorcycles and are generally required to work night shifts.
The ability to use stealth in the performance of their duties is absolutely critical to these officers who risk their lives daily without the value of backup in short order.
Having practical uniforms (not dress ceremonial uniform) is critical as well.
These officers we are told, have removed many guns from the streets and have saved many lives. Nevertheless, we have learned that Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake has singled out the Hunts Bay officers and demanded that they wear dress uniform even though they are required to work nights and under less than ideal circumstances.
Speaking to sources I was told that the DCP is demanding that only 20 officers be allowed to wear the more practical Denim dress.
When I inquired what was the explanation given for the fact that the DCP singled out Hunts Bay, I learned that none was given.
Whatever the reason for this directive from DCP Blake, it should not be that one division is singled out for a policy directive. Particularly in a division which, for all intents and purposes serves some of the most depressed and violent communities on the Island.
The conditions the Hunts Bay police encounter each day directly stipulates that they need the best accouterments to do their job.
That includes the most practical uniform available.
We would like to ask DCP Blake to look at this directive and understand the implications of his directive when considered against the life and safety of the men and women over whom he has supervisory control.
The need to have officers conform to dress code cannot be overemphasized, however, the denim uniform is vastly superior in practicality and functionality.
The denim, or something close to it, should be the way forward not dress to be scoffed at for the more impractical ceremonial cummerbund attire.
We urge DCP Blake to consider the lives of officers over old ceremonial norms.