A high percentage of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) agree that the organisation benefits from strong and effective leadership.
This was revealed in a recent survey, which shows that a total of 70.4 per cent of law enforcement officers agree that the leadership of the JCF is doing a good job and has been effective.
The results of the research, which was conducted last year by Lecturer, Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona, Dr. K’adamawe K’nIfe, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), were disclosed recently by the hierarchy of the JCF.
The survey, entitled, ‘An Analysis of the JCF Members’ Perceptions of the Strategic Reform and Modernisation Process’, sought to gauge the perception of the JCF officers in nine key areas. These included: organisational climate; leadership management and supervision; human resource practices and employee performance management; communication; organisational culture; fiscal management; operating procedures and practice; strategic planning; and vehicle, equipment, technology and facilities.
A structured questionnaire was administered to 869 members of the JCF, encompassing all ranks, from Constable to Senior Superintendent of Police, and from geographic and non-geographic divisions across the island.
In terms of the organisational climate, the survey also shows that a majority of JCF officers believe that the ongoing modernisation efforts to improve the overall organisational environment of the JCF are working effectively.
The data revealed that 61 per cent of law enforcement officers agree that the ongoing steps to transform the JCF have been successful, while 20.8 per cent strongly agreed, with only 1.8 per cent of respondents disagreeing with the general perception.
Additionally, the perception survey highlighted that there is the widely held view that the modernisation efforts focusing on leadership, management and supervision practices of the JCF were effective. A total of 56.8 per cent of the respondents agreed, while 22.3 per cent strongly agreed. Data also showed that 17.7 per cent of the respondents remained neutral on this point, while three per cent disagreed.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, notes that the survey and its results are critical to the transformation process being undertaken by the JCF.
“It is important that any organisation that is undergoing a process of transformation conducts this kind of introspection,” he says.
The Commissioner argues that there is need to assess the views of external clients, as well as those of internal clients, in order to move forward. “In this case we are focused on the internal clients, who are very important because you need to get their own appreciation of what is happening, test to see whether or not they believe in what is happening, and test to see whether or not they own the process as well,” he adds.
Mr. Ellington explains that the JCF has been articulating a new vision of repositioning itself as a trusted and valued partner in nation building, with an emphasis on community policing. “We have embraced the community policing strategy as the vehicle to move this effort and we have gone beyond that to scripting and rolling out within our policing programme, what is known as a partnership strategy,” he says.
On performance, a large number of the respondents agree that the JCF is dedicated to providing the citizens of Jamaica with high quality policing services. The data from the survey highlighted that 43.7 per cent of the respondents agreed that JCF employees are dedicated to providing citizens with high quality police services, with a further 31.8 per cent strongly agreeing and 17.8 per cent remaining neutral.
There was also a general perception among the respondents that their work is appreciated by all internal and external stakeholders. On average, more than 70 per cent of the respondents felt that their work is appreciated. Of note, is that 40 per cent of the respondents agreed that their work is appreciated by the community leadership, while 27.2 per cent strongly agreed that this is so. Only 5.8 per cent and 1.5 per cent of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed respectively, that their efforts were appreciated.
The study, however, highlighted that the biggest concern surrounding the effectiveness of the modernisation process tends to be the area of promotions and transfers.
In relation to the human resource practices and employment performance management (HRPEPM) within the JCF, most law enforcement officers remained neutral (47.2 per cent) that these areas are being dealt with effectively. A total of 34.8 per cent agreed that they were good, while 18 per cent disagreed.
When asked whether the Force’s recruiting process is fair and if the persons who are hired by the JCF are competent, 38.7 per cent of the respondents agreed that the recruiting process is fair, while 40.9 per cent remained neutral or had no opinion, with the remaining 21.4 per cent disagreeing that the process is fair. While the majority of respondents generally disagreed or had no opinion that the process is fair, 51.3 per cent percent agreed that the persons employed are competent. It also showed that 16.2 per cent disagreed and 34.5 percent were neutral as to whether the persons employed are competent.
In response to the perception of officers on the force’s promotion practices, Mr. Ellington says, “it is difficult to understand how any member of the JCF could express any lack of knowledge about that process, because it is one of the most widely communicated processes in the JCF."
“In fact, in perhaps the first week of taking office we started communicating the promotion policy of the JCF. We have published information on the new promotional system almost on a weekly basis, in terms of recruitment, selection, training, vetting, screening, promotions and exams,” he informs.
The Commissioner says he has even had complaints from some JCF members that they are actually at the point of information saturation. “When it comes to putting out information on the promotion system, we want to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what the issues are,” he adds.
Mr. Ellington says he will be taking counsel from the findings of the survey, admitting that there are areas that might need some improvement.
“We might need to look at whether we need to try and help our members to understand how to manage their expectations when it comes to promotions or to change their own view of promotions. Because, people tend to think promotion is reward for work, but promotion is really an appointment to perform at a higher level,” he says.
In terms of transfers, Mr. Ellington admits that for many years the force has been very arbitrary in terms of how the process is carried out. “But, in recent times we have made significant efforts to have discussions with persons, before transfers are made, and find out from them if the transfers are going to create any hardships in any respect,” he adds.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter