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Police Commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, has said that he will be seeking to transform the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) into an organization that is corrupt-free, professional, and citizen-focussed.
Speaking at the Jamaica Employer’s Federation’s (JEF) Chief Executive Officers breakfast at the Hilton Kingston on March 11, he informed that a strategic review of the JCF, aimed at transforming the organization, is being conducted, and his task will be to drive that transformation process.
“One of the things that I have found is that the police force is not short of many wholesome rules and regulations. Some are archaic, but much of it has been modernized. But guess what? Nobody follows the rules; everybody does their own thing, and we’ve got to arrest that and turn it back,” the Police Commissioner said.
Noting that corruption is endemic in the force, Rear Admiral Lewin alluded to a case of two policemen, on interdiction for disciplinary matters, who were arrested last week while on a robbery spree in Montego Bay. “There are criminals within the force,” he stated.
The Police Commissioner said further that under his watch, the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that at the end of his tenure, the Police Services Commission (PSC) had viable options for succession.
Turning to his decision to reduce the number of high powered weapons being used by the police, Rear Admiral Lewin said this is part of a range of measures arising out of the last week’s death of an 11-month old baby by a policeman’s bullet.
“I spoke on a range of issues to assure the public of all the measures that have been taken before my time, some of which are works in progress, and what I have introduced, in order to bring about a greater sense of accountability in the use of force and in the use of firearms. No policeman is going to be asked to go out there and put their lives in danger (but) you have to use your head (and think),” the Commissioner stated.
He expressed concern over the decision by some members of the force to impulsively opt for firepower in response to situations rather than contemplating the necessary action to be taken. “Well, if one is going to be so cavalier about their own security, that is your business; but you have to use your heads. Why should we have a force that is fragmented because people are protecting their own little turf, their own little division, (or) their own areas, because you are unwilling to accept changes. It won’t work under my watch,” Rear Admiral Lewin warned.
The Commissioner said efforts are being made at building a police force that is citizen-focussed, where community policing will be one of the primary tenets. He added that the Mobile Reserve is the only unit “that will retain any type of para-military posture”.
“Because, make no mistake, criminals (and) gunmen are not just going to roll over and hand over their weapons and there are persons who are still bent on creating mayhem, and we have got to have the capability to deal with them. But, we are going to have to bridge that gap between the citizens and the police,” Rear Admiral Lewin pointed out.
He advised that a two-pronged approach will be used to demilitarize the JCF, these being through the training programme at the police academy, as well as retraining those already in the system. “As enormous as the task looks, I feel very confident of (achieving) the vision of the type of police force that we want,” Rear Admiral Lewin said.