The task ahead for Commissioner Quallo
After waiting for more than three months, the country now has its 29th commissioner of police in veteran career cop Mr George Quallo.
His name did not figure in much, if any, of the talk and speculation following the retirement of Commissioner Dr Carl Williams in early January this year. We have to therefore ask the question: Why was Deputy Commissioner Quallo given the nod by the Police Service Commission over the many others who had applied for the commissioner’s post?
Many theories and guesses will be cited as to why he was given the task of leading the fight against crime and violence in a land where life seems to be of so little value and where disputes are more often than not settled by the use of the gun or a knife.
This paper strongly believes that the decision to install Mr Quallo as our 29th commissioner of police is one specifically and calculatingly designed to effectively boost morale in a flagging Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which is suffering from extreme bouts of low self-esteem and an almost singular desire, to just turn up at work, do the required time and go home.
Many will recall 2005 when Mr Lucius Thomas was appointed commissioner. He was liked and respected by most in the force and he set about to raise self-confidence, assurance and optimism of members with some well-received initiatives which gathered quick momentum and assisted, for at least a while, to significantly lift the spirits of policemen and women.
One of Mr Thomas’s initiatives was to regularly visit and hold area meetings where he would outline the way forward and unconventionally ask attending JCF members to nominate and then choose who among them should be promoted.
Mr Quallo, who has served the police force for nearly 40 years, is much like Mr Thomas. He is a policeman who earned his stripes on the beat and does not have the now accustomed appendages like PhD, MSc or MA to his surname.
Mr Quallo is well-known and liked throughout the length and breadth of the force for his welcoming and massaging character; and, if initial reactions are anything to go by, rank and file members are enthusiastically endorsing his appointment.
It will be a good start for Mr Quallo to build the morale of the men and women he leads, as this will more than likely forge greater commitment, a sense and fixity of purpose, and a real desire to attend to the real matters facing the nation — crime and violence.
Indeed, Commissioner Quallo will be judged by the constructive and effective ways he deals with crime, especially murders. However, in addition to building morale, he has to transform this gain into visible signs of change within the police force. Jamaicans must regard it as a common ritual to trust the police and to share whatever information they have without any possible fear of reprisals.
Commissioner Quallo must also set about, from early in his tenure, dealing with the monster of corruption which plagues his organisation from top to bottom. If he is able to build morale, remove or even curb corruption, and gain trust from Jamaicans he will be well on his way in the primary task of preventing and fighting crime.
We welcome Mr Quallo’s appointment and wish him well.