Commissioner of Police, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, has expressed confidence that the recommendations proposed in the current Strategic Review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will be realised, despite previous unsuccessful attempts at reforming the force.
“My confidence comes from the fact that…the JCF has taken ownership for this report,” he said. He also noted that the JCF was the most important stakeholder in formulating the contents of the report.
Rear Admiral Lewin was speaking at a public forum on police reform organised by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday (July 29).
He noted further that the recommendations go to the core of a myriad of human resource issues that members of the JCF want corrected.
“It is not just the public who is hurting from poor policing and poor practices, members of the police force themselves are hurting,” he lamented.
The Commissioner also suggested that people were “fed up”, and that the old ways of doing things “is just not cutting it.”
“We ought to have recognized that by now…we have to fix it,” he insisted.
The Commissioner said he was assured that the recommendations would be implemented, as an Implementation Oversight Committee has been assigned. The JCF’s Strategic Review is aimed at enhancing and improving the services delivered by the police force.
The Rear Admiral said, however, that the process of transformation would not be easy.
“Let us not pretend that this is going to be a walk in the park, because…there is going to be resistance from within, there are costs associated with it and (it takes place within) a high crime and violence environment,” he noted.
Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson (right), in discussions with Executive Director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Sandra Glasgow (centre), and Moderator for the public forum on police reform, Derek Jones (left), shortly before the start of the forum, at the Knustford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday (July 29).
Minister of National Security, Hon. Senator Dwight Nelson, pointing to the policy direction the Ministry has taken regarding the transformation of the JCF, highlighted four critical areas to be addressed during the process.
He said that there is need to improve the density of the JCF, noting that the Force is significantly underpopulated. This is an area which speaks to deficiencies and inabilities in the work of the JCF, he observed.
“Today, we have a ratio of one to 274 (one policeman to every 274 citizens). We have an ideal optimum cadre of 12,000, or thereabouts, and the current number of police officers is around 8,000. Therefore, any transformation of the police force is going to have to address our ability to effectively train new policemen,” he said.
He further pointed to the style of policing as another critical area to be looked at, noting that transformation must look at how culture is addressed and how it is changed.
“It is no longer practicable for a police force to rely on brute force to overcome the challenges that face the policeman in his everyday activities,” the Minister stated.
Senator Nelson noted that it is incumbent on every member of the JCF to work towards achieving the respect of citizens, and to foster a harmonious relationship with them. He said that community policing was, therefore, very important in transforming the Force.
The current thrust of the Ministry is focusing on community policing and, in support of that thrust, the Ministry has been embarking on a series of crime forums, across the island.
“This is aimed at ensuring that there is a new approach to policing. that there is a reform agenda, a reform approach, a reform input and ultimately a reform success, that will transform the force,” the Minister stated.
Senator Nelson also said that ensuring an adequate application of technology in the JCF’s address to crime, was another area to be looked at, as well as issues relating to the leadership, accountability and management of the force.
“In this regard, we have put into effect, or are putting into effect, a number of mechanisms aimed at leadership and accountability. We are putting in place a vetting policy; we are strengthening the accountability mechanism to monitor performance; we are holding the Force to account for the use of resources; and we are, with the leadership of the JCF, working very passionately to monitor progress towards stated targets,” he said.
Turning to the management of the JCF, the Minister said that there is a very awkward mechanism in the management of the Force which has to be addressed.
He explained that there are two basic management mechanisms – the Police Services Commission and the Police (Civilian Oversight) Authority. There is an agreement between the Government and the Opposition, arising out of the recommendations of the Strategic Review, for the merger of these two management mechanisms into a new one, which will create greater efficiencies in the management of the force.
“I have been co-coordinating discussions between the Opposition and the Government at the level of the Ministry National Security, and we are well on our way to success,” the Minister said.