RETIRED Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Colonel Allan Douglas says the solution to crime remains the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), but the entity has no credibility.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Colonel Douglas explained a few contributing factors to the lack of confidence in the JCF and charged that until serious changes are made in the structure of the police force, each of its leaders is being given the proverbial basket to carry water.
“The solution to crime is the JCF, but the JCF went off the railings. It allowed itself and its discipline to be eroded to such an effect that nobody ha[s] confidence [in it]. Some of the crimes committed are because people have lost total regard for authority. And [from] where does the authority argument come? The first experience people have of authority is the policeman coming into the neighbourhood, beating up some other young man for something and/or their door being kicked down. You lose that [confidence] and so you get your gangs, because people feel, 'That's all I have to defend myself,' “ Col Douglas said.
“You could put crime fighting in a million documents and legislation. Nothing works, because who is suppose to enforce those bits of the legislation? The same JCF — and they are the problem. But we will not accept it because it is not a popular thing to advance. Until then, anybody who goes there, including Major General Antony Anderson, as the commissioner, is being given basket to carry water,” the ex-army man added.
Col Douglas further the commissioner for his efforts but chided him for not giving a true representation of the difficulty he is tasked with in trying to curb crime.
“He himself served under my command whilst at JDF [Jamaica Defence Force]. He is a good young man, very bright and so forth, but I blame him. You sit down there for three, four years and don't start to scream and say 'I don't have anything'? When it comes tumbling down on you, don't bother. Stop telling people about how well things are. Rubbish! You have a major problem. And I hope to God it's solved, because we are such a wonderful people, and I love my country,” the retired army man told the Sunday Observer.
Col Douglas further expressed disapproval with involving military bodies daily on the streets, arguing that it exposes the entity to familiarity, which can erode certain values and standards.
“It's admirable the Government introduced the scheme where they have young people and then they make a selection of whether they want to continue military training, but in all of that we must maintain the standards. If we lose it, we are in trouble,” Col Douglas said.
He added: “I don't like what I see, though, and there's a tendency for it to be condoned by civilians. There's often a face-off, and they cheer. But we are different. We are supposed to be different. The nature of our profession calls for us to be different — a higher standard of conduct. For example, civilians can't be charged for being absent from their work without leave, but soldiers can be, and it's a serious offence too because the soldier is subject to two sets of laws — civil and military. It means there are higher expectations and higher demands. If there is that, then leadership — chief of defence staff right down the line — need to take stock. They've grown rapidly and we've given them lots of praise, lots of ranks, made demands with them, placed our confidence and trust in them; they must not abuse it. That's my call to them.”