Editorial

How about a board of past police commissioners?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

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Let's face it, we have certain wasteful cultural practices that frequently result in some of our best human resources being lost to the country.

Too many people who have garnered irreplaceable experience in a variety of areas of national life retire from critical positions, taking vast expert and institutional knowledge with them to sit at home twiddling their thumbs.

One pertinent example is our police commissioners — many of home retire at an age and a time when they still have much to contribute to the unending and increasingly difficult fight against crime and violence.

We were reminded of this fact by the lead article in last Sunday's edition of the Jamaica Observer which quoted the former police commissioner, Mr Owen Ellington in comments about the current crime strategy.

Mr Ellington, who left the job as top cop in late 2014, was highly regarded and often described as the best commissioner of police in the history of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. His comments are therefore worthy of contemplation by thinking individuals.

It is his view that the current belief in the police high command that most of the over 1,000 murders committed so far this year, are attributable to domestic violence is misplaced and unproductive.

Mr Ellington is convinced that gang activities are mostly responsible for the high murder toll and that the focus should be on measures to counter the gangs across the length and breadth of Jamaica.

His explanation is that the fact that 80 per cent of murders involve illegal guns, suggests that there is importation, distribution, use of guns by gangsters who kill some of their cronies or their family members. That is not be confused with domestic violence.

We are constrained to accept that view. Unless it can be shown that domestic violence is the undeniable culprit.

The bigger point, though, is that Mr Ellington's knowledge and experience should still be available to the national fight against crime.

There are other past commissioners of police who have faded from the national picture but who, we feel sure, can be an important assets in reducing murders. These include Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, Mr Lucius Thomas, and Dr Carl Williams.

Imagine how helpful they could be to current Commissioner George Quallo, who is currently getting his baptism of fire from the gunmen who are terrorising the country.

We are proposing to the National Security Minister Robert Montague a Board of Police Commissioners to act as an advisory body to the sitting commissioner. Mr Montague is someone who thinks, and we are confident he will see the merit of this suggestion.

As things are, we seem to be down to our last big idea in the zones of special operations (ZOSO). But crime is so multifaceted and so deeply ingrained that it would be dangerous to put all our eggs in that one basket.

Given the not unpredictable tracing match between the two major political parties over the ZOSO, we would do well to start looking elsewhere for solutions.

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