Columns

JCF Reserve needed

Jason
McKay

Sunday, July 07, 2019

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As the operator of a security company, I am often asked to use five guards to do a job that can only be efficiently done by 15. When I stand up and say it is impossible I don't get the job, as there is always someone who is willing to say they can do the impossible. Then, when they fail, I am asked again, and in many cases I get the job.

However, in many other cases, the client keeps giving the job to company after company as they fail over and over again. This brings me to our current murder, crime, and gang crisis and our inability to get it under control.

Well, herein lies our problem. It is simply not possible with the size of the police force that currently secures Jamaica.

Now, I recognise that the army is virtually a police auxiliary in recent years. But, that is still not enough. However, I like the trend.

You see, the only way to stop one bunch of dummies armed with guns from attacking another set of dummies armed with guns is to occupy the space where the dummies live because they live a zinc fence apart. This is the story of our crime. The tragedy of this story is that they do not only kill each other. With disturbing regularity innocent people are also killed by these gangs.

Occupation, however, takes numbers. This becomes more relevant in squatter settlements that are devoid of planning and subsequently infrastructure that is necessary for effective occupation. Therefore, flooding the community, instead of simply using buffers, is required.

This type of occupation is impossible with our current numbers, and with the quantity of gang-infested communities.

Often gangs are in conflict because of things as simple as a fight over a woman, to as complex as the allocation of roadwork. So conflict is unpreventable.

We, however, cannot afford to employ enough police officers to be an effective occupational force. Therefore, we need a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Reserve — a real one — one that mirrors the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

We have had the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), but that is gone and ceased to function as a reserve for decades before. We have the District Constabulary, but that too is not really a reserve for 99 per cent of officers who work in it. For most it is full-time employment.

The reserve I am suggesting should use the two-week per year minimum and one weekend per month. This is what the JDF does. Also, the ranks should not be different in any way from the full-time staff. This would allow persons who take early retirement to still serve, but at the same time work otherwise. They would maintain the rank they left at and could still be eligible for elevation as a reserve member.

The force could then get to benefit from the wealth of experience that the member has accumulated and can still contribute. Skill-based members or specialists can continue in functions that allow for younger members to focus on the much-needed occupation.

In times of crisis, just as in the JDF, the Reserve would be subject to being called in for mandatory duties. Recruitment from the population would be done with the same level of background investigation that is used to recruit regular members.

You would be surprised at how many in policing would stay and be involved in the fight against crime if they could afford to. Some simply cannot because of the wages. This way they could. This same dynamic exists for the population on a whole. Many people would join, but they do not want to be minimised or made to feel different or inferior.

There is the rank issue as well. People will want elevation, even if it is not for money. A real, properly structured Reserve could address that.

This is literally the only way that any form of effective occupation can take place, short of inviting in foreign troops.

There is also the option to continue to pretend we have the numbers to do the job, or pretend that we are trying to reach numbers that can do it. We cannot ever employ enough full-time police officers to stop the killing, and any other method of stopping it will be countered by a strong human rights lobby, because trust me, it will result in combat that the gunmen will lose. Or, it likely will result in detention terms that are unconstitutional.

We have had gang-infested communities in great numbers in Jamaica since 1974. They existed before, contrary to popular opinion. Claudius Massop's involvement in western Kingston during the 1960s was a garrison. It just was not named that.

The selfish motives of young men of that era impact us today, even though those men are old, dead, or dying and no longer in the matrix they helped create.

Our generation of political leaders need to stop worrying about re-election and popularity, and focus on innovative ideas that are workable. They need also to listen.

The rest of us who do not govern can still force the hand of our leaders. We have a voice that can project to places that others only reach when they block a road. We need to take a moment to consider living in an environment wherein you can die at any time, wherein your female children can be sent for, wherein your sons cannot say “no”, and just pretend that you live there.

Jason McKay is a criminologist. Feedback: jasonamckay@gmail.com


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