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Let's continue this year's improvements

...with bold, game-changing strategies

Sunday, December 23, 2012    

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The full text of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington's Christmas Message to the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force which was released in last week's Force Orders.

Administration and notifications

AS we approach the end of another year, we are poised to see a continuation in the reduction of major crimes, particularly murders and shootings, for the third consecutive year.

The JCF had set itself certain targets in leading the charge to reduce all major crimes to tolerable levels, and more specifically to reduce the rate of murder to 12:100,000 by 2017. This target was set in 2010 when the year ended with a murder rate of 52:100,000 down from 62:100,000 in 2009.

The first six months of 2010 were the bloodiest in our nation's history with the number of murders rising to over 20 per cent for the same period in 2009, where 2009 was the worst year that the country has ever experienced. Notwithstanding, we ended 2010 with reduced murder figures of 15 per cent.

Continuing on the momentum that was started in 2010, 2011 ended with an encouraging 42:100,000 as we posted a significant reduction of 21 per cent for the number of murders recorded.

I am convinced that if this trend were to continue, then reaching the targeted murder rate of 12:100,000 by 2017 is achievable. So far in 2012, a marginal reduction is expected and this drives home the reality of the difficulties faced to achieve reductions year after year.

We are at a point of reflection in this journey of reduction in criminal homicide when we must return to the drawing board and craft strategies to propel our creativity even further and to commit to a concerted effort of professionalism, intelligence gathering and analysis, quick and decisive responses, which are all the natural precursors of effective operational initiatives and our quest to make even further gains.

Our strategies must be bold game-changers, as anything less will continue to yield marginal reductions or maintenance of the current figures. Let us now take this time to reflect on the refinement of our policing strategies and better organisational resource management as these are necessary components to any effort aimed at achieving our ultimate goal of further murder reductions.

A key element to this dispensation is the annual policing plans. These plans must reflect the new paradigm in our policing efforts where the views of key local stakeholders are sought and included in our plans and policing programmes.

Intelligence

There has been a significant improvement in the intelligence apparatus within the JCF. Since 2010, the National Intelligence Bureau embarked on a major transformation programme that reflects a shift in the intelligence focus from primarily supporting Strategic Command.

Now security intelligence products, and to a lesser extent, criminal intelligence products are provided to the operational and investigative arms of the JCF as a first priority. The result is an improvement in operational support and officer safety and an increase in the dissemination of intelligence products from two to an average of 200 per week.

There is much more to achieve, but this can only be done by the entire JCF embracing the change in intelligence management and administration, where each member sees him/herself as part of the intelligence community.

Investigation

The Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) is undergoing major reform and modernisation where investigations are more effectively managed and supervised by way of case conferences, exploiting the use of technology and the use of the case management system.

Several programmes have been initiated and are at varying levels of implementation, which seek to improve the human capacity, primarily supervisory and management, within the CIB.

Primary among these are the High Potential Detective Programme (HPDP) and the recruitment of attorneys-at-law to the CIB. I am proud to say that the JCF has commenced a programme of enrolling six members in law degree programmes at the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology. This will continue over the medium term.

The advent of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) is also a significant capability that will enhance the JCF's effectiveness in treating with influencers and facilitators of crime who have proven to be out of the reach of normal law enforcement efforts.

The effective targeting of persons so categorised presents myriad benefits to the Jamaican society from a local and international perspective, including decreasing the perception of corruption, reduction of organised criminal activities and improvement of confidence in the ability and integrity of local law enforcement agencies.

Operations

The operational arm of the JCF has seen tremendous improvement over the past three years. This is accredited to numerous training programmes in field and operational command, policy changes that are geared towards effective operational planning and execution, improved appreciation and use of intelligence, an improved system of accountability through the use of instruments such as the administrative review mechanism and the daily target monitoring system. Several contemporary policing strategies such as the anti-street crimes efforts (Street Crimes Unit and Operational Support Teams), Anti-Gang and Anti-Lottery Scam task forces have been delivering positive results.

The effectiveness of our operational initiatives would not have been possible without solid support from the Mobile Reserve, Flying Squad and the various operational support teams. The roles that these entities have played in providing tactical assistance were crucial in achieving positive results from the many operations undertaken during the course of the year.

The proactive and unrelenting efforts of SSPs Winchroy Budhoo of the Mobile Reserve and Cornwall Ford of the Flying Squad are to be commended in this respect.

The performance of the Traffic Division has been excellent during the year. The fact that the number of road fatalities has decreased in 2012 is testimony to the work the traffic cops under the leadership of SSP Radcliffe Lewis have done and the presence they have been able to maintain on our nation's streets.

SSP Lewis, with his effervescent style of leadership and gregarious personality, has been in the forefront, never afraid to tackle thorny issues relating to the Road Traffic Act, while providing well-needed polite humour to the public at large.

With relentless assurance the Marine and the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Divisions have impacted significantly on the achievements of the JCF over the last 12 months. Personnel in these divisions have quietly gone about their duties, at all times exhibiting a willingness to respond to intelligence and to spend long hours ensuring the effectiveness of their operations in interdicting the transnational guns for drug trade, which is among the most credible threats to our nation's security.

I cannot comment on the success of our operational initiatives without thanking Chief of Defence Staff Major General Antony Anderson and the men and women of the Jamaica Defence Force for their vigorous support. They have provided strong and resourceful backing to our efforts. Thank you, Major General and the soldiers of the JDF.

Performance of divisions

The reductions in murders and other serious crimes to date, especially in the divisions of St Catherine South, St Catherine North, St Thomas, St Mary, Portland, St James and St Elizabeth have served as the main catalyst for the overall decreases we can now highlight. The formulae of their successes must be used as a template by others to achieve better results in the coming year.

Despite these and other accomplishments, there is still much to be done and achieved in 2013, beginning with the execution of sound policing plans. I also expect a visible expansion of cross-divisional co-operation to curtail the movement of criminals and the conveyance of guns, ammunition and illegal drugs.

We must move more aggressively and with better co-ordination to deny criminals freedom of movement and freedom of action, which they continue to exploit in the pursuit of criminal motives.

Our performance during the first quarter of 2013 is going to be critical if we are to achieve four consecutive years of decline in murders and other major crimes. We must assert ourselves from early in the year by dominating our major roadways, by establishing vehicle checkpoints at strategic positions and by responding in a timely manner to intelligence reports. There can be no let-up in the fight against crime in 2013.

I truly acknowledge the work done in all divisions. It has not been easy, as gang members continue to find creative ways and means of fostering and prolonging their criminal activities. Let us therefore be steadfast in our commitment and imaginative in our responses.

Anti-corruption & work professionalism

The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) continues to stem the tide of corruption within the organisation. The efforts of the ACB, which includes a robust internal and external education programme, is working well, judging by the decrease in the number of members caught in the corruption net and the increase of JCF personnel willing to share information on corruption with the branch.

The 40 per cent increase in the number of civilians who have been arrested and charged for breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act is also noteworthy.

The Inspectorate of the Constabulary (IOC) remains our quality assurance overseers. The IOC team has made many visits to police formations across the island, which have greatly assisted in regulating our professional conduct. These visits will continue in 2013 as we strive with strong conviction to deliver quality policing services to the people of Jamaica.

I implore all police personnel to work by the rules and regulations, especially when dealing with the public.

Administration

The work of our Administration Portfolio is critical to the smooth running of the JCF. Members who serve at this portfolio have to deal with myriad issues and they have done so with aplomb. I am particularly encouraged by the development of the Medical Services Branch which deals with the health needs of members. I am also heartened by the quick response time in settling disciplinary matters and the manifest improvements in dealing with issues pertaining to the Attorney General's Department. These are signs that we are making progress.

The Training Branch, which includes the JPA, In-Service and the Staff College, has responded well to the needs of the organisation in providing relevant training to members at all levels. There has been a noticeable increase in specialist courses aimed at on-the-job development, allied with a strong emphasis on practical engagements.

The Training Branch is leading the thrust for the development of one college for the JCF which embraces all the requirements to better deal with the advancement of members.

Government support

The achievements of the JCF in 2012 are underpinned by the robust and sustained policy support of the minister of national security Hon Peter Bunting, and the staff of the ministry headed by Permanent Secretary, Dr Annmarie Barnes. As the person with responsibility for the JCF, Minister Bunting is providing effective leadership, guidance as well as the resources necessary for us to undertake the task of providing security for the nation.

I thank the minister and the team from the national security ministry for the belief they have in us and for working assiduously to improve our welfare situation.

Officer safety and family

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes increased demands on the police to protect shopping areas, bus parks and places of entertainment. I know we will be out in our numbers, ensuring that peace and public order are maintained so that all law-abiding Jamaicans can enjoy the festivities.

In doing so however, I implore every member of the organisation to remember and to practise all the essentials of safety you have been taught over the years. Officer safety is a paramount precondition of the work you do on behalf of our citizens. Please protect yourselves from danger. Remain alert on and off duty.

The progress and gains we have made would not have been possible without the support of our families. I am urging members to look after their families as they are prized assets. I strongly believe that the strength of the police lies in the unity of our families, our steadfastness to get the work done and our professionalism.

Let me wish all members of the JCF, the ISCF and the Rural Police all the best for the Christmas. Your all-round performance at every level of the organisation is duly noted and commended.

The blessings of God be with you and your families.

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