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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