Public approval for security forces

Majority want police to be tougher on criminal suspects

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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More Jamaicans approve of the job that the security forces have been doing in recent times than those who disapprove. At the same time, the majority of those polled say that the police should be tougher on people suspected of committing crimes.

Those are the findings of a Jamaica Observer-commissioned survey conducted by veteran pollster Bill Johnson last month, just before the last of three states of public emergency (SOEs) came to an end.

The job-approval finding was in line with the general view expressed by people living in the three SOE areas — St James, St Catherine North Police Division, and Kingston Western and St Andrew South Police Division — that police and soldiers were not abusive or disrespectful.

In fact, more than 60 per cent of respondents who said they came into contact with the police acknowledged that the cops were courteous.

The pollsters questioned 1,008 Jamaicans islandwide between January 21 and 24, 2019. Johnson explained that the poll has a sampling error of plus or minus three per cent nationally, while in the areas where the SOE was in effect the sampling error is plus or minus nine per cent, because the number of individuals polled was only 100 in each area.

When the pollsters asked residents to state if they approve or disapprove of the job that the security forces are doing, 67 per cent said they approved, 21 per cent disapproved, while 12 per cent said they were not sure.

In relation to how they were treated by the police, 66 per cent of respondents said the lawmen were courteous, 29 per cent found them to be disrespectful, while five per cent said they don't know.

However, when the pollsters asked residents if they thought the police respected people's rights, 48 per cent said no, 34 per cent said yes, while 18 per cent said they don't know.

Interestingly though, when the pollsters asked if the police were too tough on people suspected of committing crimes, 49 per cent said they should be tougher, while 38 per cent of respondents agreed that the cops use too much force.


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