Well done, JCF, now make this the norm

Friday, July 13, 2012    

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PRIDE and morale must have gone up a few notches in the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) this week following the events of Tuesday and Wednesday in which the police successfully confronted and apprehended criminal suspects without shooting or killing anyone.

That the police were able to demonstrate restraint in both incidents shows that there still exist among them members who are guided by the constabulary's vision "to become a high quality, professional and service-oriented organisation that is valued and trusted by all the citizens of Jamaica".

That vision, as we understand it, is at the root of the JCF's Ethics and Integrity Policy, the contents of which all members of the constabulary are required to acknowledge, as well as articulate the meaning of its application within the police force annually.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, we see, has also advised members of the police force that the policy acknowledgement and principles will "be meshed into individual performance management objective reviews".

We hope the commissioner will insist that this is done as it will contribute significantly to the police high command's commitment to transforming the JCF into a "highly ethical and professional body that its members can be proud of" and in which Jamaicans can have trust and confidence.

Like Commissioner Ellington, we, too, must commend the police for their professional handling of the hostage situation at Haining Mews in New Kingston on Tuesday evening.

Instead of the usual use of force, the police -- having established that innocent lives were at risk -- chose to negotiate with the criminals who were holding three women inside an apartment at gunpoint.

At the end of the ordeal, no shots were fired and the four hostage takers -- two of whom tried to escape -- were arrested.

The behaviour of the police in Wednesday's incident is more commendable for the fact that the cops did not return the gunfire that they said came from robbery suspects during a high-speed car chase in the capital city.

Luckily, we have not, so far, received any reports of anyone being injured by the actions of the suspects who, we were told, ran red lights, broke stops signs and forced other motorists off the road.

That chase ended with three of the suspects being arrested, as the driver of the vehicle, the police said, escaped after the car crashed into a concrete median. In addition, the police also reported that in searching the car they seized a firearm and 10 live rounds.

Too often in the past the police have demonstrated a proclivity to shoot when there was no need to. It is a reckless resort to violence that has not only killed and maimed people, but has fuelled hatred for the police among the families and friends of the individuals who are the subjects of police action.

We acknowledge that policing in Jamaica is a very difficult and hazardous job, as each day our law enforcers face hardened, heavily armed criminals who do not hesitate to engage the police.

What is important, though, is that the police at all times display professionalism and integrity, as that will win them public support and erode the patronage given to gangsters by some citizens.

Here's hoping that what we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday will become the rule, rather than the exception.





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