THE Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), based on the Christmas message from the commissioner of police printed in our Sunday publication, is on course for a fourth consecutive year of decline in murders and other major crimes.
If the figures hold for the rest of the year, it would represent quite a significant achievement for which Commissioner Owen Ellington and the men and women of the JCF must be commended. Any decline, especially in the number of murders committed, means one less body bag, one less funeral and one less family to mourn.
We are all too aware that policing in Jamaica is an arduous task. The physical environment restricts the effectiveness of police operations while the criminal gangs are inventive and resourceful. If we are to be honest, private piques, quarrels and intemperate behaviour by rogue elements within the bowels of the JCF have also assisted in prolonging the criminal activities of gangs.
That is why we applaud the role being played by the JCF's Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) and the Inspectorate of the Constabulary in robustly dealing with police officers who have over-stepped their prescribed boundaries of serving, protecting and reassuring the people of Jamaica.
We are greatly encouraged by the increase in the number JCF members who are now willing to share information with the ACB on corruption-related issues and the visible growth in the number of civilians being arrested and charged for corruption.
Of great significance to us is the police force's ability to tackle crimes driven by the growth of technology. In that regard, we commend the brilliance of the JCF's Cyber Crimes Unit in ferreting out the culprits involved with cyber extortion earlier this year.
Without doubt, one of the hallmarks of Commissioner Ellington's tenure is the openness of the JCF. The availability of the weekly Force Orders to the media, and by extension the people of Jamaica, was a bold but decisive step by a career police officer brought up in the 'confidentiality' of what is essentially the policeman's 'Bible'.
We also note the willingness of commanders to share information with the public. As a media entity we fully understand and respect the need for the JCF's discretion of privacy when necessary, yet the inclination to share information is quite evident.
Seeing and experiencing the fundamentals of effective change encompassing the constabulary, the obvious need is for support from the Government. Yes, the commissioner did thank National Security Minister Peter Bunting for his guidance, but much more needs to be done. As defined, the role of the Government is to provide resources and policy support to the security forces.
To some extent this is being achieved, but certainly not with the timeliness required. We are still awaiting the tabling of the Anti-Gang and the DNA legislations in Parliament, two critical bills which can seriously impact on the future successes of the police force.
Commissioner Ellington is therefore correct when he opined that more still needs to be done. Let us hope he will receive all the necessary backing in order to achieve five consecutive years of reduction in crimes.
Well done, JCF.