BATTLE OF THE COPS

Hot election campaign as Police Federation meets this week to choose new executive

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 13, 2018

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THE boxing gloves are not on yet, but candidates seeking to become executives of the Jamaica Police Federation have begun their warmups as they prepare to enter the ring that they hope will propel them to success.

The shadow battle began in earnest weeks ago, with those seeking office mounting campaigns, mainly on social media, the use of flyers and videos, to appeal to the approximately 12,000 rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that they should be the ones anointed to lead the affairs of the organisation into 2019.

Delegates of the 75-year-old federation will make the crucial decision regarding which eight members of the constabulary, who hold ranks of constable, corporal, sergeant, and inspector ought to be at the forefront of their battles for better working conditions for the next year, during the organisation's annual conference set for this Wednesday through Friday at the Moon Palace Hotel in Ocho Rios, St Ann that insiders said will cost the federation around $40 million to accommodate the just over 400 delegates during the period. Each rank is represented by two persons on the executive.

The Chairman and General Secretary will be selected from the eight executive members.

According to some close to the leadership, this will mark the first time in the history of the organisation that open campaigning of the kind has occurred, as, usually, those seeking executive positions are nominated and elected from the floor of the annual meeting.

Of the eight positions, those for inspector have already been filled for next year, as inspectors Carol Chisholm and Sheldon Gordon, the incumbent General Secretary, were chosen by the organisation's most senior group during a recent Inspectors' conference.

But the real heat centres on the contests for the other ranks, where, at this point, others have confirmed that they will run.

Constables Tameca Thomas and Nigel Murphy are the incumbents in that category. They will have to face up to challenges from Detective Constable Melvin Whyte and another name that has been making the rounds, though it has not been associated with any form of paraphernalia yet.

Corporal Arlene McBean, described by some as articulate, efficient and committed and who has been touted as a potential chairman; as well as the other incumbent Rohan James in the corporals category, will also be challenged, so far, by Doris Stewart.

One vacancy exists among the sergeants rank, as Cecil McCalla, who took over from promoted former Chairman of the federation Raymond Wilson last year, will not be seeking re-election. The other incumbent, Sergeant David Bogle, will again put himself forward, but there will be two other men in the ring trying to stay vertical on the canvas when the final bell sounds — Patrae Rowe, who has completed his Bachelor of Law (LLB) training at the University of Technology, and former Chairman Franz Morrison, who federation insiders said are close friends.

McBean, contacted by the Sunday Observer, said that she would refrain from commenting on the likely outcome of the election, describing it as an internal process “and I don't think it is the right time to give an account of how I think I will do, or if others will make it. At the end of the day we are one federation and one JCF,” said McBean.

Corporal James also declined to comment on the election, saying that he would rather say what he had to say at the conference.

Sergeant Bogle too, said that based upon the JCF's media policy, members are not allowed to speak to the media without permission from the High Command, so he too would refrain from offering his views on the challenges ahead.

Constable Thomas, like some of her colleagues, also declined to comment specifically on the upcoming conference, saying that it was not wise for her to be in the public speaking about the event.

Of the others seeking office, Sergeant Rowe, who was on the executive in 2012 when he was a constable, confirmed that he had started the process of getting back onto the executive, and would release his manifesto tomorrow.

Sergeant Morrison, who defeated Wilson for the post of Chairman in 2012, also declined to comment, saying that he was not allowed to.

Calls to the cellular phone of outgoing chairman McCalla went unanswered yesterday.

The Police Federation has lobbied the cause of its members vigorously over the many years of its existence, sometimes even clashing with the Police High Command about certain positions that it has taken, which the federation said was always in the best interest of its numbers.

There are 155 corporals and 144 sergeants who will serve as delegates. The exact number of constables who will serve as delegates could not be determined.

The immediate past chairman, Wilson, rose to become one of the most staunch proponents for the welfare of police personnel until his promotion into the officers rank to Assistant Superintendent took him away from administrative duties of the federation. Wilson is now assigned to the Portland Police Division.

The federation has had some high profile chairmen over the years, among them James Forbes, Michael James and David White who all went on to become superintendents.

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