Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, has informed that a plan is being formulated to guide the implementation of the proposed merger of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF).
“I’ve asked the Commissioner (of Police) to develop what would be a plan for merger, and that plan should address a number of things – what are the benefits, what are the costs, how the integration would in fact take place and all matters related to a smooth merger taking place,” he said.
Mr. Bunting was addressing the 25th Annual General Conference of the ISCF Officers' Association at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on Friday, March 30.
The Minister explained that the merger was being considered as part of a larger vision to modernise the structures of policing and was not due to any concern for the professionalism of the ISCF or its leadership.
“We are exploring that direction because we see it consistent with the long term direction that this administration has for the police and I ask you to keep an open mind to it,” he urged, pointing out that part of the mandate of the Commissioner in developing the plan was to consult with all who will be affected, should the merger take place.
Mr. Bunting further pointed out that the JCF Act was an archaic 1867 piece of legislation which positioned the JCF “as a sort of para-military organisation", but that the time has now come to establish a modern police authority, and in doing so, effect changes to the legislation governing the police.
“We felt we needed a modern police authority and in the course of establishing this new police authority, eventually the legislation would replace many pieces of legislation that we now have,” he said.
The Minister noted that this would involve “doing away with the JCF, the ISCF, the District Constables as coming under separate pieces of legislation and bring it under one governing statute”.
The proposed merger also speaks to combining the two management structures of the force – the Police Services Commission and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority, as well as changing the name of the JCF to reflect a service oriented organisation rather than a force.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington said that the merger could prove favourable as “whatever benefits that accrue to the JCF in terms of modernization, capacity building, leadership development and such the like will be available to all of us because we will all be members of the same organisation."
The merger was one of the recommendations coming out of the JCF Strategic Review that was aimed at improving the services delivered by the police.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter