Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Streamline top-heavy JCF, says former cops

Published:Tuesday | September 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Hardly Lewin
Mark Shields
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Former police commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardly Lewin, and one former deputy commissioner, agree that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is unnecessarily top-heavy, which could impact its ability to fight crime at a time when it needed to be a much leaner, streamlined organisation.

Lewin told The Gleaner that he has always insisted that the force of which he led for just over two years has too many at the top.

"The Jamaica Constabulary has three and four times the number of deputies and whatever number of times the assistant commissioners than many police forces in larger jurisdictions. The question really begs itself. Why does a force at 11,000 strong have five deputy commissioners and one with 33,000 has one deputy?" questioned Lewin.

He noted that a study be done to look at the size of comparable forces in other jurisdictions and the number they have employed at the top to try rationalise the need for the large number at the pinnacle of the JCF.

There are currently four deputy commissioners and 17 assistant commissioners serving in the JCF, along with several other top-ranking officers to include superintendents and assistant superintendents.

 

COMPARABLE ORGANISATIONS

 

Mark Shields, who served as a deputy commissioner in the JCF from 2005-2009, after being seconded from London's Metropolitan Police Service, echoed Lewin's assessment.

"The fact is that if you look at that the size of the organisation, and if you look at comparable organisations such as the Police Service in Northern Ireland, it's a similar landmass, a similar-size force, but when you look at the number of police officers who are actually in high rank in Northern Ireland compared to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, there is a complete difference between the two," he said.

He noted that with an already top-heavy force, one has to consider remuneration that could run into millions per year, and which could otherwise be invested in providing needed equipment and tools for the cops.

"Looking at the salary of a deputy commissioner of police (DCP), for example, and if you have four DCPs, that's a serious amount of money. We don't need four DCP's; we probably need two of them," noted Shields.

'People in JCF think there's an entitlement to promotion'

"I would support any commissioner who decides to rationalise the ranks, but at the same time, he or she must empower the ranks to do their jobs," he said.

Shields insisted that the 2008 Constabulary Force Strategic Review, which contains certain recommendations to empower lower-ranking police personnel have been ignored.

"That is a really critical document that has been ignored for the most part. It's ignored because people in the JCF think there is an entitlement to promotion having served a period of time. It is a culture in the JCF that needs to be changed," Shields said.

"The reality is that you cannot promote everybody. So, if you want to improve morale, you can start by improving pay and conditions, as those two factors affect every member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force," he said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com