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Unease in ISCF over police merger

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 11, 2014    

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There is growing unease in the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) over administrative arrangements being made for the entity's merger with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

According to Joel Betty, acting chairman of the ISCF Association, his members are upset with a few conditions placed in a letter they are required to sign in order to effect their reassignment.

The letter, over the signature of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, gives ISCF members five days, from April 7, to sign and return to the police high command.

In addition, it also states that "members transferred from the ISCF who were promoted on or after November 1, 2013 will undergo a probationary period of six months from the date of that promotion, in accordance with Regulation 24(5) of the Police Service Regulations, 1961".

But yesterday, Betty said ISCF members are subject to 1951 regulations. As such, the condition outlined by the letter does not apply to them.

"Presently, a member cannot be reverted in rank," Betty said, "and there is no probation period and section 20 of the Constable Special Act speaks to your terms of employment and how your employment can be severed."

He said he was advising ISCF members not to sign at this time, adding that he would be carrying out investigations into allegations that several members were being told that if they did not sign they would not have a job.

"This is not right, and as a result we are willing to take this issue to the court," Betty said last night.

He has also said that he will be using the next 24 hours to inform members of the move forward.

The association represents 2,052 members who are to be absorbed into the JCF during the 2014-2015 financial year. The move comes just over a month after allegations were raised that a series of transfer of officers was taking place days after the announcement of the planned merger.

ISCF Commandant James Golding has since dismissed those allegations.

The merger was announced more than a decade after the recommendation was made.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting and Commissioner Ellington said it would have a positive impact on Jamaica's crime-fighting efforts as more officers would be assigned to manning the streets.

"We will eliminate a lot of the inefficiencies of having two command structures, separate offices, separate administration. By combining them you will release more personnel to be on the streets, patrolling communities, working in crime control and crime prevention," Bunting said then.

For his part, Ellington said the merger will increase the strength of the JCF to just under its 12,000 establishment.

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