Mark Shields favours Ellington as next Police Commissioner

By Al Edwards

Friday, November 27, 2009

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Former Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields is supporting Acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington's bid to succeed Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin as Police Commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Speaking with Caribbean Business Report from the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston earlier this week, Shields said: " I am absolutely delighted that Owen Ellington is likely to be the next Police Commissioner and I will be fully supporting him. I worked with him for almost five years and he is a first-class police officer who I would work with anywhere in the world.

"We now have to hope that he will make the right decisions around his team. I would like to see him make some radical changes and bring in some of the younger middle-ranking officers into more senior positions. I cannot stress enough the importance of
this happening quickly. Why? Because there are many people holding senior positions who have been there for over 25 years and it is time for them to go. With Ellington as Commissioner he can now say good-bye to those people and bring in some of the excellent young officers in the JCF. They must be given a chance to flourish and perform and if Owen does so he will gain even more respect than he
does now."

Ellington is said to command the respect of the rank and file as well as the senior officers of the JCF. He is credited with doing a fine job with the staging of the World Cup Cricket events that took place in Jamaica in 2007.

The Acting Commissioner has outlined his priorities as:
. the reduction of crime, especially murders
. restoration of public safety and confidence
. upholding of human rights

. boosting of morale and confidence of JCF members and its auxillaires
. effective confrontation of corruption among JCF members; and
. effective internal and external communication of his strategic priorities.

Earlier this month Ellington said: "The restoration of public safety and confidence will visibly manifest itself by an increase in beat and motorised patrols in public spaces where there are usually large concentrations of people, for example, bus parks, and business districts including shopping malls, markets and banking areas."

The flamboyant retired senior supintendent of police Renato Adams, who is also throwing his hat in the ring for the top job, also acknowleged Ellington's credentials and considers him a more than worthy candidate for the post.

"He is a good man. He is qualified with a Master's degree in Engineering, trained, and has the know-how. He must be allowed to hold his own above the politicians and political pressure and human rights organisations," said Adams earlier this month.
Shields said that as long as the JCF embraces a modernisation programme, then both the crime situation and the organisation will get better.

"My concern is that at times when murder and other violent crimes are very high there is a tendancy for the people of Jamaica to run back to the old draconian ways of 'give the police the M-16 and let them shoot up the criminals. That has clearly been shown not to work. The only type of policing that really works in Jamaica is good intelligence-led policing, working with the communities and earning and getting their trust and confidence. The last thing I want is to see that eroded."

Shields went on to say that he still fails to see a team effort around crime reduction. He added that over the five years he has been in Jamaica, no administration has ever fully grasped the problem. He singled out the former Minister of National Security Peter Phillips and the former Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas as figures who met regularly to discuss the crime plan and sought ways to address it.

"I still don't get the sense that the link between crime and social intervention is as clear to all as it should be. In places where crime is reduced we need to build a vaccum with good policing and good community projects that gives people jobs. At the moment that is not happening. We have heard of the need for the six new crime bills and the change in crime legislation but I am yet to see it. Where is the national DNA data base? Why is it that it still requires a unanimous verdict for murder from a jury rather than a majority verdict? There is no logical reason for these situations to still prevail."

Mark Shields will be launching his very own crime consultancy firm, Shields Crime& Security Consultants early next year.

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