Columns

Here's how Cabinet can reorganise the police and beat back crime

Franklin
Johnston

Friday, May 24, 2019

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Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson is a good man, but a stressed man. A scowl is now omnipresent, and it is not fair to him. Peeps say we should choose a job we are happy with. Did he?

Sir, the results we expect, as you also expect, are not there, so read on.

To reorganise the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) you must do two things:

1) revamp its crime-fighting philosophy, framework, strategy; and

2) make changes to the JCF as an organisation.

The crime-fighting aspect is a big ticket. Sir, after a year's state of public emergency (SOE) crime is back. How many years of SOE do you need in St James — three, five? Statistics improved briefly, but the kill-rate in other parishes went up — see the link?

Why play God to save some and put others in harm's way?

We fight crime in two ways:

a) find miscreants, get evidence, go to trial, get convictions; or

b) they are caught in the act, resist, then they're cut down by police and buried promptly to avoid cults.

After this we limit future crime by suppression and behavioural change. The former is visceral and may terminate criminals with extreme prejudice; the latter respectful and educational.

Suppression must be swift, decisive and have visible success. A SOE is to suppress rights, business, and recreation, so if it lasts 12 months it desensitises and normalises the extraordinary — not fair, not good. Behavioural change is the opposite. It is long term, yet the results are not certain. Will years of schooling or weeks of resocialisation work? God only knows!

The other big ticket item is reorganising the JCF to be transparent, data-driven and effective. The JCF was a colonial force to keep blacks in check, yet in 2019, with black rulers and a 92.1 per cent black majority, do you see any difference?

Are our black police oppressing whites, Indian, Chinese? No, just blacks!

So what should we do with the JCF? Break it into five fully cooperating, autonomous police jurisdictions (Cornwall, Middlesex, Kingston Metro, Surrey, and Mobay Metro); each with a police chief reporting to a central command chaired by Kingston Metro. The United Kingdom is broken into 43 police forces and the most complex is the Metropolitan Police for London's 10 million people. The smallest is City of London Police which covers the complex financial district of one square mile. The USA has 12,000-plus police forces for cities, counties not including some 3,000 State Sheriff Departments; a dozen other security agencies (not including Armed Forces) as ATF (alcohol, tobacco, firearms); School, University Police; the Federal Bureau of Investigations to police all states and the Central Intelligence Agency to police the world.

We do not need this array, but we know Jamaica is too crime-ridden for one commissioner, even if gifted, trained, respected, feared, brown, black, white, local or foreign. We've tried all!

Even firms break up into subsidiaries to get best results where one man once ran the whole shebang. We must do this with the JCF; so each chief accounts for his jurisdiction, and rivalry among all five means cream rises to the top. Thus, standards, ratios, and metrics would be used. Imagine a spreadsheet of quarter one, quarter two... 2019 crimes, arrests, convictions in five jurisdictions so we can interrogate data. Wow!

Some shared and central services will be necessary to avoid duplication — capital expenditure, transport, equipment, procurement, warehousing, logistics, specialist teams of psychiatrists, grief, dispute resolution, etc. Technology and data are crucial, and an ID system with biometrics will ensure better detective work and may reveal the epidemiology of crime. Some may deem closed-circuit television and facial recognition software a rights issue, but licence plate software, polygraph, virtual reality modelling will help. Artificial Intelligence — normed on whites — makes mistakes with black faces, bodies, brains, so we may be royally screwed unless rich Africa invents technology normed on blacks.

In this macro institution change we should consider volunteers and trained part-time officers as in Britain. The ego of some police are fragile, and new, high-skill, educated officers are a threat to them; but we can't allow personality deficits of a few to prevail as the majority will welcome this special volunteer corps of engineers, tradesmen, managers, secretaries; aged 30 to 65. They could be deployed in a community, school or event, on malls, parks or offices given duties in polygraphing and counselling, and asked to give maybe four to 18 hours a week and free-up hundreds of regular police.

Sir, do not cut off your nose to spite your face! Community effort to defend homes is also important. Last week I saw my Home Guard plastic ID signed by a commissioner of police. Back then my peri-urban district caught farm thieves, but the police had no gas to come for them and said “let them go” as if we harmed a thief he could sue and they would then arrest us. Farmers were not amused. Community policing is wasted unless Cabinet empowers fit-and-proper residents to save our own lives! Sir, your playbook is used-up, so cast your net on the right side. Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com.


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