Minimum police response times should be standard procedure
In the aftermath of last week's tragic incident in St Elizabeth, in which a teenager was allegedly killed by her child's father, the time has come for the police high command to establish minimum guidelines for response time for our law enforcement officers. While this occurs in other jurisdictions, Jamaica is once again lagging behind where this is concern. This guideline should be for all police stations across the length and breadth of the island, regardless of location.
I am very much aware that staffing the police force is extremely challenging, more so in this period of recession and financial constraint. However, it is very clear that we must find additional resources to adequately equip our police officers in order for them to do their job. It is only after this has been done that we can hold them fully accountable for not responding promptly. Minimum response times should become a part of standard operational procedures and should be a part of the curriculum at the police training college. It cannot be business as per usual!
Whether someone had just broke into our home, or whether someone has threatened you or your family member, the first instinct is to call the police for help. It cannot be that in your time of need as a law-abiding citizen the police is not in a position to assist because their vehicle is being used to transport prisoners.
Too often we hear of reports of individuals requesting assistance from the police only to be told that no vehicles are available, or worse yet no petrol is available for the vehicle. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anymore.
Who knows, maybe the outcome in St Elizabeth could have been different had the Nain police been able to respond to the call from the deceased grandmother for help. According the grandmother, she called both the Nain and Alligator Pond police stations, repeatedly, for assistance. Obviously too much time was allowed to pass before the police finally arrived on the scene. This crime was probably preventable.
The principle of community policing will not be served if our police officers are not viewed favourably by the communities in which they serve. Effective policing is not only about increasing the number of policemen and men in the force; it is also about facilitating them to effectively respond to the needs of the citizenry in a timely and professional manner.
It is commendable that the Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington has launched an investigation into the matter. Let us use this most regrettable experience to put some corrective measures in place so as not to have a repeat of this most unfortunate incident.