JCF Has Got To Change The Perceptions…


I recent­ly read some­place that there are alle­ga­tions from some quar­ters of the JCF that some of it’s harsh­est crit­ics are past mem­bers.
I found that obser­va­tion curi­ous, because regard­less of the diver­gent views of past mem­bers they are gen­er­al­ly sup­port­ive of the work the men and women still serv­ing are doing for our coun­try.
So, the first order of busi­ness as it relates to the JCF, is to under­stand just who its friends are.

At the same time, I also under­stand that there may be two or more groups of past mem­bers. Those who resigned and walked away, and those who retired after serv­ing out their careers.
It may be instruc­tive to rec­on­cile that the views of those two groups may be dis­sim­i­lar in some ways.

Personally speak­ing, I am the least bit inter­est­ed in the opin­ions of the JCF per se, efforts are best direct­ed at those who are empow­ered to act for the bet­ter­ment of the agency and ulti­mate­ly the coun­try at large.
And in that vein, we see where the JCF has used rather sus­pect argu­ments to jus­ti­fy bad pol­i­cy and gross incom­pe­tence.

One of the first rules of apply­ing jus­tice is a sim­ple con­cept that “jus­tice must not only be done but it must also appear to be done.”
That means per­cep­tion is an inte­gral part of the process. That con­cept seems to be lost on the hier­ar­chy of the JCF which incom­pe­tent­ly refus­es or fails to devel­op poli­cies com­men­su­rate with the demands of todays polic­ing, and ensur­ing that mem­bers are ful­ly steeped and apprised of those poli­cies.

Failure to do so has result­ed in an inci­dent like that which saw eggs on the face of the JCF as a result of the Gary Welsh ker­fuf­fle.
Citizens per­ceived that the mat­ter was han­dled with inequity and injus­tice and was not in line with the way aver­age Jamaicans are treat­ed by those who enforce the laws.
It mat­ters not that the intent is right­eous. The police depart­ment is a ser­vice provider to the Jamaican peo­ple, as such, it is their opin­ion, their per­cep­tion which mat­ters. Not that of some incom­pe­tent beau­ra­crat wear­ing a clown cos­tume.

Another mat­ter which has irked mem­bers of the pub­lic and right­ly so, was how Ruel Ried and his co-accused turned up in court while in cus­tody with­out hand­cuffs.
For those of us in the know, we know that this is how the JCF does busi­ness. But this old way of doing busi­ness can­not and should not con­tin­ue to be the sta­tus quo.

According to one local pub­li­ca­tion some mem­bers of the pub­lic were up in arms recent­ly at what seemed to be pref­er­en­tial treat­ment hand­ed out to for­mer gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Ruel Reid and his four co-accused in the cor­rup­tion scan­dal envelop­ing the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University, after they were led into court with­out being placed in the hand­cuffs usu­al­ly seen on detainees.

True to form, one mem­ber of the police hier­ar­chy told the media, the threat lev­el of the per­sons being tak­en before the courts while in police cus­tody must be assessed and the deci­sion tak­en whether to use restraints. “It’s always about assess­ing if a per­son in cus­tody will pose a dan­ger to oth­ers or try to escape cus­tody. We do not always hand­cuff per­sons in our cus­tody as a hard and fast rule,” said the cop.
And there­in lies the prob­lem.
Every per­son arrest­ed or told he/​she is to be arrest­ed becomes a dan­ger, and a flight risk. That has got to be the men­tal­i­ty of offi­cers.
It is that mind­set that dras­ti­cal­ly reduces the risk of escape and crit­i­cisms of pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

The arti­cle went on to side with the cop, by argu­ing that there is no hard and fast pol­i­cy requir­ing cuffs. Obviously, nei­ther the reporter nor the sup­posed police source has ever heard about safe cus­tody of pris­on­ers.
Every police offi­cer must under­stand the fun­da­men­tals of safe cus­tody of pris­on­ers, it is in the police train­ing man­u­al. (pre­cise)
Even so, if there was no such pol­i­cy, the ques­tion must be, why would there not be a pol­i­cy, con­sid­er­ing the many instances in which pris­on­ers have escaped police cus­tody?
Ineptitude and incom­pe­tence!
If there is no hard pol­i­cy on an issue as spe­cif­ic as safe cus­tody of pris­on­ers, how can there be a puni­tive rem­e­dy when there are pris­on­er escapes?
How do you enforce a pol­i­cy which does not exist?
How do you change the lax atti­tude of the rank and file to their duties when there are no hard and fast rules?

That aside, who did not think that this would have caused aver­age folks to argue there are two sets of enforce­ment rules, one for the rich and pow­er­ful, and anoth­er for every­one else?
This flies in the face of the con­sent decree between those who do the polic­ing and those who are policed.
When the police fail to catch these mis­takes before they hap­pen they will con­tin­ue to be crit­i­cized as inept and incom­pe­tent.
Inept and incom­pe­tent are adjec­tives which oth­ers per­ceive in us, it is up to us to fix those per­cep­tions, not for observers to change their per­cep­tions of us.
Not when they pay our salaries.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police Detective cor­po­ral, a busi­ness own­er, avid researcher, and blog­ger. 
He is a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. 
He’s also a con­trib­u­tor to sev­er­al web­sites.
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