Chang pushes for big jump in size of police force

Minister going after 40% rise over next three years

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 02, 2019

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Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang desires to increase the number of police personnel in the constabulary by 40 per cent over the next three years.

It would mean that the numbers would jump from the current roughly 12,000 members to 16,000 within three years, followed by a further 2,000 in the next year.

Dr Chang, who sat with the Jamaica Observer in an interview last week, said that the shortage should go a far way in satisfying the demand that exists in the quest to bring crime down to tolerable levels.

Jamaica averages over 1,200 murders annually — one of the highest homicide rates in the Western Hemisphere. The island also has challenges with less serious criminal activities, including robbery, rape, shooting, praedial larceny, burglary, advanced credit fraud or 'lotto' scamming, among others.

“We need more men, and we need more officers to ensure adequate supervision and guidance,” the minister told this tabloid. “The commissioner is approaching both matters professionally. The target is that, by the end of this financial year we can train 1,600 officers a year, given the direction that we are undertaking at the Ministry of National Security to do work at the National Police Training College. We have temporary space at a school in Montego Bay to do training there starting in October of this year, and we are finalising a long-term lease — possibly purchase in the long run — of Tranquility Bay in St Elizabeth, which has the capacity to double training on an annual basis. I am confident that we can get to that target and bring the force up to scratch,” Dr Chang, said.

Only three per cent of the members of the constabulary are in the officer corp, which, according to Dr Chang is not in keeping with modern police forces.

“By professional analysis, we need least 4,000 more officers in territorial policing; and in the non-geographical zone — which is like CISOCA [Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences], NIB (National Investigation Bureau), CTOC, which are not geographically-based — need at least 2,000 more. We are going at it. This year's investment in the budget was significant to lay the foundation – $21 billion. If we spend it right, we won't need that much next year. That's where the country has to monitor. Everybody needs to monitor what is required and how we invest their money,” Dr Chang said.

“The first 4,000, essentially, is needed over the next three years. Even with increased technology, you still need the men, and we are expanding technology.”

Certain criminal activities will require specialist training, Dr Chang said, citing, for example, one that has tainted the island's image over the last decade.

“Advanced credit fraud, popularly called 'lotto scamming', is the use of technology for criminal purposes; therefore you have to get officers who can manage that process. That's just the tip of the iceberg,” the minister said.

“In Jamaica, the horrendous issue of human trafficking is emerging and personally, that's what I find very reprehensible. The police have to be prepared to deal with it. As we get better at dealing with the transactional activity in illegal drugs, guns, disrupting heavily organised gangsters who deal with extortion, you can find [that] the gangsters who remain the most sophisticated are dealing in trafficking. It is new, so they have the loopholes. We are trying to fix that but it's a big money business.

“Interpol will tell you that human trafficking, it is the third-largest money spinner and very close to being second. Drugs, guns and human trafficking are the three biggest money spinners in international crime.

“Young, healthy, especially young females, are being used and taken advantage of — and I just find it hard and horrible. We have to find the gangsters and lock them up. The police has new challenges while we try and deal with the old ones. We have to approach all of them with a fixity of purpose. The Government, through the prime minister, is very committed to getting the security right.

“Getting the guns off the street, dismantling gangs, locking up the dons, restoring public order and bringing hope to our disenfranchised communities are the pillars of out strategy,” Dr Chang said.


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