Transforming people’s conduct can be a tall order, but the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Strategic Review Implementation Team (SRIT), has set itself three years to overhaul the level of professionalism displayed by police personnel.
Acknowledging that there is no “easy fix” for changing human behaviour, Head of the SRIT, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Novelette Grant, says her team is determined to see “consistency and uniformity of the acceptable conduct of members of the organisation,” within the next three years.
Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Strategic Review Implementation Team, Assistant Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant.
The SRIT was established to implement the recommendations of a 2008 report on the strategic review of the JCF. The review team, led by President of Northern Caribbean University, Dr. Herbert Thompson, produced a report titled, ‘A New Era of Policing in Jamaica: Transforming the Jamaica Constabulary Force’. The Government accepted 124 of the recommendations made by the panel.
The Strategic Review Report highlighted six broad areas which require action to transform the JCF into a modern police service, including changing of the culture of the organisation into a professional, fair and service-oriented one.
To achieve this particular recommendation, the SRIT has begun training members of the force in leadership and staff development. These persons will be expected to lead a structured process of training other members of the JCF, the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) and the rural police (District Constables) in areas, such as customer service and ethics.
Miss Grant tells JIS News that while the JCF has a training school at Twickenham Park, it does not have the capacity to upgrade the approximately 10,000 police personnel on a continuous basis.
“We require on-the-job training for members of the constabulary to be ongoing. So, what we are doing is building capacity within the organisation by selecting individuals with the attitude and aptitude to be trained as trainers, so they can deliver continuous on-the-job training to members of the constabulary, at the divisional and formation levels,” she explains.
In August, the first batch of 64 trainers graduated from the programme, which is delivered by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), with another 70 to begin in September. The SRIT is aiming to have at least 250 persons trained in instructional techniques by the end of this year.
ACP Grant informs that in each of the JCF’s 19 divisions there will be a training unit aligned to the organisation’s human resources branch, with the responsibility of ensuring that each member of the force receives at least 40 hours of formal training per year.
She tells JIS News that these measures aim to create a workforce where persons are up to date on new trends in policing; where there is shared understanding of the organisation’s policies and procedures; and where there is standardised understanding of each person’s role.
“So, we expect that in the medium term we should start to see some kind of uniformity, in terms of how police respond to the concerns of citizens, how they deliver policing service and how they respect and uphold the laws,” Miss Grant says.
She contends that such uniformity should make it easier to monitor and evaluate the performance of police personnel, as well as increase the level of accountability within the Force.
ACP Grant shares that police personnel have been very receptive to the idea of being trained by their peers. Citing a recent example with a community policing training programme, where members of the force trained their colleagues, ACP Grant says the trainers were “pleasantly surprised” at the response of their peers.
“They (the trainers) talk about their apprehension that in some instances they felt they would have been given a hard time. Some of the [trainees] are senior in age and service and they had no problem. Because at the end of the day, people respond to you as a presenter if you show that you are knowledgeable on the areas of presentation and you can conduct a session and keep control of the session,” she states.
To assist the trainers in carrying out their jobs, SRIT has developed several training manuals and compact discs (CDs) covering the topics to be delivered under the programme. They are the Core Values and Principles Handbook; Customer Service Manual; Community-Based Policing Training Manual; Trafficking in Persons Manual; and the Domestic Violence Manual.
ACP Grant says 500 copies of each of the manuals have been printed, with the exception of the Core Values and Principles Handbook, for which 10,000 copies were printed, so each member of the Force can have one.
The information provided through the manuals is expected to help improve professionalism in the Force. “It’s the mastery of the knowledge of your job that is the first step towards being professional,” Miss Grant argues, pointing out that when there is limited understanding of one’s job, it is likely to result in substandard performance.
To provide the trainers with support, they are being organised into a trainers’ association, which will also be a ready pool from which the police academy can draw guest presenters for particular classes. She says the association will also help to facilitate continuous upgrading of the trainers.
“The changing police environment requires that we adopt new trends in policing, and we need to have the membership being educated and sensitised in as real time as is possible. And that is why the association has been mandated to come up with a design for their own web page, where they can share resources and they can share best practices,” she tell JIS News.
Miss Grant says monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are being put in place to ensure the training programme fulfills its aims, and that persons conform to the expected standards of behaviour. She says a message of zero tolerance has already been sent out to all members.