Police commissioner wants JCF members, Rastas to improve relationsThursday, October 21, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson has called for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Rastafarians across the island to join hands in a bid to foster a better relationship for the greater good of the society.
Anderson told Rastafarians at the Pitfour Nyahbinghi Centre in St James recently—after receiving an invite— that it is now time to come together and discuss the way to move forward.
“This [invite] came about mainly as a result of your efforts following a press conference that I had and the issue of Rasta and Rastafarian came up… I actually went and looked at some of the issues that were presented, because some of them were written about the relationship between Rasta and the police, but it is not just that, it is a relationship about country, governance, and State,” said Anderson.
“If you have a situation that confronts you year [after] year, decade [after] decade and it is not changing for the better, that means you need to do something different. You can't be doing the same thing because you will not get a different result.”
The police commissioner stated that the fostering of the relationship between Rastas and the police is long overdue.
“Now, we are Jamaicans and sometimes in all of our discussions and our positions...we behave as though there is someone else and not us; the future of Jamaica is ours alone to determine, there is no one coming from abroad to change our circumstances, and this is a reality that [has] confronted us over time, but things change, generations change,” he argued.
Anderson stressed that, while he understands the concerns being shared by members of the Rastafarian group, he pointed out that the JCF does not target any group of people.
“I can tell you from the force's position, we are not into targeting any groups at all, it is not acceptable and that is not the training that they get, so even if you come from your community with one idea, when you come in, it [JCF] is a different regime of training that tells you that it is not acceptable. We have written policies that tell you that it is not acceptable, even if you are inclined that way, but in all of that, we have people who deviate,” he explained.
One Rastafarian at the Pitfour Nyahbinghi Centre, weighed in to state that it is not the belief of the group that all members of the JCF are “bad cops”.
“Just like the Creator said in his Father's house, there are many mansions. There are many houses in the Almighty, but it is not everyone doing the same thing, because we know that we have good policemen and good soldiers, and we know we have locs man who are angels and we know we have man under locs weh fire gun. It is not every man weh have on locs a Rasta,” said the man.
The over half-century-old rivalry between members of the JCF and the Rastas, the commissioner added, has caused more harm than good, adding that it has caused a further division across the country. The relationship, he stressed, has to be mended.
With many members of the Rastafarian group highlighting their concerns surrounding the use of marijuana, chairman of the Rastafari Nyahbinghi Administrative Council, Ras Iyah V, called for police stations across the island to be equipped with copies of the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act 2015.
“Just like how you have wanted men pictures put up in the station, we would like to see the copies of the amendment posted in the station so that the police cannot use ignorance,” said Ras Iyah V.
But Commissioner Anderson pointed out that there will be a standardised approach to the JCF's relationship with the Rastafarians.
“The amendment doesn't tell you how you are supposed to police… so we have to give specific guidelines so, if [Senior Superintendent Vernon] Ellis was to move from St James, we don't want things to change; whoever comes in is supposed to be using the same standards. And you can't have different policing in Portland than in St James, so the only way you are going to have that standardised is if you break it down into specific actions that you can and cannot do as a police officer,” he explained.