If Commissioner Quallo is to succeed...
A week ago in this space, we heartily welcomed the appointment of Mr George Quallo as the next commissioner of police and wished him well.
As was widely reported, Mr Quallo’s appointment took effect yesterday and we expect that he will use his swearing-in address to set the tone of his leadership.
Based on reactions from within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) since the announcement of Mr Quallo’s appointment, we believe that he will have the full support of the majority of its members. That, we hold, will be crucial to his success as commissioner, for we have seen in the past where a lack of broad support for police commissioners has sabotaged their efforts to transform the constabulary and, inevitably, rendered futile in the fight against crime.
As we stated last week, we believe that the decision to install Mr Quallo as Jamaica’s 29th commissioner of police is designed to effectively boost morale, which has been flagging in the JCF in recent times. We know that too many cops are experiencing extreme bouts of low self-esteem and an almost singular desire to just turn up at work, do the required time, and go home.
That attitude will present Commissioner Quallo with a challenge, one that we expect he will tackle head on, given his nature as a man who cares for the people under his command.
However, while he takes steps to improve the conditions under which his troops are being asked to work, Commissioner Quallo should not forget that he and his charges have a duty to Jamaica and its people — a duty to which they are sworn and as such should never ignore.
In our discussion last week we spoke to other expectations we have of Commissioner Quallo, among them dealing firmly with corruption in the police force and how he plans to attack the country’s nagging crime problem.
While we await the new commissioner’s first official address on these matters, we offer a bit of advice to the political directorate to resist any temptation it may have to try to interfere with Commissioner Quallo’s work and that of the police force.
Of course, the politicians will quickly respond that they have no input in operations and that their only role is setting out policy. However, that is a mere diplomatic response as successive administrations have tried to influence decisions and, when they cannot have their way, subtly place undue pressure on the police high command.
It is time to put an end to that.
At the same time, we again appeal to the public to accept that they have a very vital role to play in the fight against crime. The police cannot be everywhere at all times, and as such will need the public’s help in cases where information can assist investigations.
Of course, public assistance will depend on trust, and as such the police have a duty to win the trust, and indeed the respect of the Jamaican people. That is a hurdle that Commissioner Quallo has cleared for himself, judging by public reaction to his appointment. We expect he will lead from the front on this matter. The members of the police force would do well to emulate him.