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Assistant Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant, is seeking the help of the media and other influential groups to build police-citizen rapport and dispel the perception that most members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are corrupt.
She said the perception that the Police are corrupt is being fuelled by the media and other sources, rather than personal experiences of corruption involving the Police. She added that the perception that there is an antagonistic relationship between the Police and communities is also a myth.
Ms. Grant’s comments are supported by recent data gathered by a team of researchers involved in the Latin American Public Opinion Project. The study titled, ‘Political Culture in Jamaica, 2008’, has shown that the actual relationship between citizens and the Police is not as negative as perceived and portrayed.
The study, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was unveiled today (April 21), at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, at a forum which brought together several stakeholders to discuss the findings.
The study revealed that 85.1 per cent of participants in the survey saw the Police as helpful friends, while only 14.9 per cent saw them as abusive enemies. In addition, three out of four felt they and the Police had a shared interest.
More than 90 per cent of Jamaicans felt that working with the Police would make a difference in crime fighting and more than 67 per cent indicated that they would be willing to collaborate with the Police to solve crime. Ten per cent said they would be very hesitant to help the Police, while 22.3 per cent said they would be somewhat hesitant.
The survey, which is part of the Americas Barometer series, found that young people were much more suspicious of the intentions of the Police, especially those under age 25. Persons who reported having been victimised by the Police were also more likely to have negative perceptions of the Police’s intentions and actions in their interactions with the community.
Persons most willing to work with the Police were those involved in community groups, such as the church, parent-teacher associations and other community organisations. Persons residing in rural areas were also more willing to help the Police than those in urban areas, although most persons in both areas said they were willing to collaborate with the Police.
The researchers have concluded that, “there is overall majority support for Police efforts in Jamaica, accompanied by a general willingness to co-operate with authorities in crime-fighting partnerships.”
“Government programmes that emphasise ‘social capital building’.would therefore be most likely to yield favourable outcomes, as would constabulary public relations efforts, targeted at producing ‘friendlier’ community relations with youth and most disadvantaged sectors,” they concluded.