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National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the Ministry is moving to accelerate the culture change currently taking place within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), to transform the organisation’s image into one providing public service.

Noting that “this is something that has been happening” over time, Mr. Bunting said the Ministry wants to shift the emphasis from state security to citizen security, “so that we start thinking about the security of the citizens in the community (and) get that mindset going in the JCF".

Mr. Bunting, who was addressing the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica Chairman’s Club Forum breakfast at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Tuesday (March 20), said the move is in keeping with the administration’s long term crime fighting initiatives.

He said the government also wants to advance recommendations for the merging of the JCF and Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), pointing out that this “will…provide a lot of efficiencies”.

"You don’t need two parallel command structures, two parallel offices, (where, for example) the ISCF have their own Mandeville office versus the JCF, etcetera,” he said.

He noted that the merger has been on the cards for some time and “we want to push through with this”.

 “We want to create a new police management authority, which will be a more conventional para-statal type organisation that will have a governance board, that will combine the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA) functions, and really hold the Commissioner accountable for performance,” the Minister outlined.

Regarding other efforts at modernizing the police force, Mr. Bunting advised that there had been an increase in the use of technology to enhance policing.

He noted, for example, that the police was using Blackberry applications “to tell whether a licence is current, whether it’s fake, whether the registration of the vehicle is up-to-date, whether a licence plate of a vehicle they’re following as a suspicious vehicle, whether it’s stolen, etcetera."

Noting that the JCF is dealing with gangs whose members are “smart, adaptable, and constantly evolving,” Mr. Bunting argued that the lawmen needed similar capabilities to respond accordingly.

This, he contended, will require a change in the “very hierarchically structured organisation” of the force, to a flatter structure with devolved decision-making, which would see much of the authority being channelled down to the frontline where officers are positioned at the operational level.

 

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter