The JCF-JDF connection

BY Ian Haughton

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is now operating short of its established numbers and is currently in transition, while the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is lacking in its capacity to provide the full spectrum of necessary support for effective law enforcement in a democratic society like Jamaica. Consequently, creative short-term measures must be utilised for bridging the gaps through superior prioritisation techniques in modern policing. The zones of special operation (ZOSO) and the states of public emergency (SOE), currently in force, are two such short-term measures.

Soldiers were never trained to function as police officers in democratic societies. The United Nations has long recognised this and has established a pool of peacekeeping police officers to do policing work after military incursions. Iraq and the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur are good examples.

The lack of policing support from the JDF to the JCF is therefore not due to the organisation's unwillingness to provide the needed support. There are major limitations which impact the JDF's capacity for deployment of personnel with the technical policing competence, especially based on the differing respective operational legislative authority. Consequently, there is a limitation in relation to the capacity of the JDF to fully immerse itself into some critical policing areas like investigations, while it just does not have the number of human resources or necessary training for most other spectra of policing.

This capacity limitation places both the JDF and the JCF, which is currently short of over 3,000 personnel for its established strength, to do all facets of policing ranging from administrative, intelligence, and investigative work to routine patrols, counter-gang policing activities, and traffic management, etc. Therefore, to control the decades-old escalating local and transnational crime problems now engulfing the island, extraordinary short-term measures become paramount going forward.

The ZOSO model of “clear, hold and build”, is designed to address the social ills within specific community boundaries, while the SOE improves the State's capacity to confront the tier-one threats by removing criminal gangs, their facilitators, traffickers of humans, guns and drugs, along with the gathering of information for robust intelligence products.

These short-term policy decisions taken by the Government to dismantle gangs, reduce crime, improve social conditions, and implemented by the security forces with help from other government and non-governmental organisations, have shown positive results.

At the end of January 2018, murder, which is a major indicator used by Jamaicans to judge how effective our policing methods are, was over 20 per cent year to date below the comparable period last year. Better yet, now, in the second week of May 2018, this has been reduced to two per cent. This was the result of the careful implementation of a ZOSO in West Kingston and two SOEs in the St James and St Catherine South policing areas.

The gangs which operate in the aforementioned spaces are known to have national and international support. These areas were targeted for the ZOSO and SOE after careful analysis of data and social conditions which make them susceptible to serious organised criminal activities that could result in murders, extortion, kidnapping, and human trafficking.

It is important to note that the St Andrew South policing division, which had more than a 250 per cent increase in murders, was not given a ZOSO nor SOE, as the intelligence from data suggested that such extraordinary measures were not necessary at this time, but rather that saturation policing could control the violent crimes occurring in that space. Saturation policing was recently implemented and the resulting decrease in murders has been very encouraging, moving from over 250 per cent to just over 100 per cent in less than 30 days.

Similar data analysis and interviews have shown that Westmoreland which was being diligently monitored, was designated a catchment area for persons fleeing both the ZOSO and SOE in St James. As such, our security forces were not caught napping nor being negligent in their duties. However, the capacity of the JCF, even with the support it is getting from the JDF, proved a hindrance to full implementation of the type of policing model necessary there, without jeopardising the gains made elsewhere in West Kingston, St Catherine and St James.

The JCF is now in transition to improve its capacity, image and capability to confront the threats from transnational organised criminal gangs, cybercriminals, money launderers, and their facilitators. It is important that an inter-agency, private sector approach becomes an essential pillar in the policing toolbox which must be grounded in the timely sharing of relevant information. This will reduce the need for the JDF to continue their almost four decades of providing human and logistic support to the JCF.

Both the new minister of national security and commissioner of police have publicly stated that the use of technology will now become a critical pillar in the Government's security policy and operational framework going forward. Therefore, improving the working plant, training and holding individuals accountable will automatically become the foundation for the policy and operational stand in transforming the JCF.

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