General Antony Anderson a good choice for police commissioner

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

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We welcome the Police Service Commission's announcement yesterday that Major General Antony Anderson has been appointed Jamaica's new commissioner of police.

It is, we believe, an encouraging sign that the Government is serious about reforming the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), as General Anderson comes to the job with impressive credentials earned during his career in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and which have won him respect from the country's international partners.

Readers will recall that General Anderson was appointed the country's first national security advisor in December 2016, a job that required him to give the prime minister and Cabinet advice on internal and external security, intelligence, and defence matters.

Indeed, the post also saw him working with overseas security and intelligence entities, a fact that will give him added advantage going into his new job, as in today's globalised world Jamaica's security issues go well beyond our national and domestic boundaries.

In its announcement, the Police Service Commission said that Major General Anderson “has developed a keen understanding of the critical nature of the JCF in securing Jamaica”. In fact, for the 32 years that he served the JDF — six of which as chief of defence staff — he worked closely with the police force and headed a group organising the national security efforts in a number of Caribbean countries ahead of the hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 in this region.

We expect that the discipline, respect for accountability, and management skills that General Anderson garnered from his military training will help him transform the JCF which, we maintain, is in need of major surgery.

However, we must be realistic and accept that he will not be able to effect the needed changes by himself. He will need new, trustworthy people in the hierarchy supporting him because any serious reform measure will not be complete without casualties. There are quite a few individuals in the JCF who the organisation must retire in the public interest and for the good of the police force.

Some of them, we expect, will not go willingly and, most likely, will put up a fight. But the Administration should not cower in the face of any resistance. It will be a tough decision to make, but one that is necessary if the country is to again have a police service that inspires public trust and respect, and which carries out its duties with the highest degree of professionalism.

He must seek the support of the good people in the JCF who know the nooks and crannies and where all the bones are buried. They have been waiting a long time for the kind of leadership that can scrub the stain from this critical agency of the State.

General Anderson is about to take the baton in a mission that previous police commissioners — most notably Mr Lucius Thomas, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, and Mr Owen Ellington — made some headway.

The Government, the Jamaican people, and the decent members of the police force should give him their full support because that mission is possible.

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