What must new Police Commissioner George Quallo do?

When the United States authorities in the coming months ask the Government of Jamaica to sign extradition papers for at least two Jamaican attorneys ripples will be sent throughout the legal fraternity in the island. The requests will also be another signal moment for law enforcement in Jamaica because one of the attorneys is a household name in current affairs circles in the island and the other known in corporate circles with links to both sides of the political divide.

The investigation by the ‘Feds’ and actualization of a request for the extradition of the attorneys will be a signal moment for law enforcement in Jamaica, because the results achieved by local investigators regarding financial crimes generally pale in comparison to the diligence and intelligence-driven modus operandi of Jamaica’s US counterparts whose probes and requests for extraditions across the world invariably climax in a near 100 percent conviction rate.

This is why it was heartening to hear recently installed Police Commissioner George Quallo indicate during his swearing in ceremony that among his first order of business is to bolster the rigor of intelligence capabilities of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, (JCF).

It would be good if Commissioner Quallo considers whether it is that the intelligence capabilities of law enforcement in Jamaica are far substandard to its international counterparts or that the will to act on intelligence gathered is lacking in this island state which is characterized by a small and well-connected society.

But apart from assessing and improving where necessary the intelligence capabilities of the constabulary, what else must George Quallo do? It perhaps would be a move in the right direction if the commissioner not only speaks feelingly about rooting out corruption in the constabulary (like many of his predecessors did) but he should take practical steps to achieve this sizable task.

I was encouraged that during the first minute, subsequent to acknowledging protocol, Commissioner Quallo declared that he will move to stamp out corruption in the JCF. Indeed, the new police chief declared that he has nothing to hide.

He has been in the JCF for several decades. Commissioner Quallo must know that there are many upright and hard-working members of the constabulary, both at the senior and junior ranks. Conversely he must also know that there are some members of the High Command whose conduct have fallen short of what is desirable of those in their position of awesome power and trust. However, the case against these members falls short of what is required for a successful prosecution. Nevertheless their conduct does not assist the image of the constabulary in the eyes of the public or Jamaica’s international partners.

In light of the immediately prior stated circumstances, Commissioner Quallo should perhaps consider requesting a meeting with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and National Security Minister Robert Montague. He should ask for a budget to proceed with engaging the not so upright members of the High Command in swift retirement. Wasteful expenditure some may argue? No, a necessary move to restore the image, integrity and across-the-board effectiveness of the primary crime fighting organization in the country.

It was also good to hear the commissioner indicate a willingness to join with the Police Federation in the push to improve the welfare and working conditions of the police. It is trite knowledge that productivity and motivation to be effective and go beyond the call of duty are very much connected to remuneration and work environment. Again, I implore the commissioner to follow through on his stated intention to advocate an improvement in the challenging environment in which his men and women are required to operate.

The commissioner should also place emphasis on community policing. August Town, which recorded zero murders last year, is a case in point where community and a multi-stakeholder approach to law enforcement has proven itself to be effective. The area has recorded four murders for this year but at least three of those are linked to domestic crimes and not the intra-gang conflict which in previous years besieged the once troubled community that neighbours the Caribbean’s premier tertiary educational institutional, the University of the West Indies.

Commissioner Quallo’s support for police personnel who use fatal force when justifiable is commendable, especially so in Jamaica where violent crime is rampant and criminals are not shy to take on law enforcement. Likewise, the police chief’s expressed stance against those members of the JCF who abuse their powers is to be well received. The proof of the cake however is in the eating

It is the job of not only INDECOM, the political directorate and the Opposition to hold the commissioner to his word but also my media colleagues and I. I have that faith that we will endeavour to so do. Why some of Jamaica’s international partners afford themselves the legal authority and power to eliminate on sight people who are designated terrorists, but appear apprehensive should smaller states like Jamaica apply a similar approach to well-known gangsters who are reputed for unleashing terror on communities, is a matter for the Government and its international partners to resolve.

Commissioner Quallo’s job may well be made easier should this issue be resolved in favour of a more dynamic approach to eliminating ruthless crime bosses in the country whose murderous ways are known not only to intelligence services in Jamaica and overseas, but among ordinary residents

In conclusion, George Fitzroy Quallo does not have a silver bullet to fix rampant crime in Jamaica. That much vaunted ‘silver bullet’ does not exist. However, by doing the aforementioned things prior to his retirement, which may be a few years down the road, Commissioner Quallo may assist the process of rescuing Jamaica from the current quagmire of lawlessness which punctuates various sectors of the society.

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