The police merger muddle: C'mon guys, we can do better!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014    

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Regular readers of this column will recall this newspaper's total support for the merger of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

In fact, we have been strong advocates of this development for many years, simply because we recognise that it will result in greater capacity and efficiency in crime-fighting.

As we pointed out in this space last month, our only regret is that this merger has taken so long, given that it was recommended by the acclaimed Wolfe report from as far back as 1991, ostensibly as part of a major overhaul of law enforcement. Since then, five separate reports and studies have made a similar recommendation.

Therefore, we believe the Government should be commended for finally demonstrating the guts to implement this merger which, we hope, will be completed as quickly as possible.

However, we can't help but lament the shambolic start to this merger, as reported in our edition yesterday.

Our story reported on the contents of an e-mail sent to former ISCF members who have been transferred to the JCF, telling them to ask retired police officers or active members for badges.

In that e-mail, Deputy Commissioner Clifford Blake said that "There are insufficient JCF badges for all members and the regulation numbers are being constructed. These, however, must not prevent members from wearing uniform".

He added: "JCF members in possession of extra JCF badges must make them available to those who do not have. Members may also contact retired officers, with whom they are familiar, to get JCF badges".

That, of course, elicited anger among some former ISCF members. And who can blame them?

One would have thought that, having placed so much energy and political capital in the merger, the authorities would have at least ensured that all the necessary arrangements were made to ensure that the merger runs smoothly.

Yesterday, the Police High Command, through the constabulary's Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), responded to our story by stating that the newly sworn JCF members were not mandated to go asking for the badges.

According to the CCU, the badges and other accoutrements for the JCF uniforms have been ordered from overseas and the police force is awaiting the arrival of the shipment.

We have no reason to doubt the CCU's word. However, we must ask why the rush to effect the merger if all was not in place?

Waiting a few more weeks would not have lessened the impact and intent of the merger and would have saved the JCF the embarrassment it is now experiencing.

Further, it would have avoided the feeling of disrespect now running through the ranks of the former ISCF members.

Certainly, that's not how one would want new members of an organisation feeling upon entry. It can't be good for morale.





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