Have Your Say
JM | Nov 28, 2021

Pay the cops and focus on lawlessness in Jamaica

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

A December 2020 file photo of several vehicles in the JCF’s response fleet in Kingston. (Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce)

A settlement should be quickly made to pay Jamaican police personnel overtime compensation.

It is the right thing to do and ensures there is morale when crime is again out of control in Jamaica.

The government should not quibble, negotiate, prevaricate and look to avoid addressing this matter. The entire country is looking on and expects the government to be fair and to see to it that the police are able to protect citizens and be justly compensated for doing so.

The Jamaica Police Federation has filed a suit in the Supreme Court against the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Security looking for compensation from 2008 in light of cops working more than 40 hours a week with no overtime pay.

The Government has come back and said it will make overtime payments for the period 2019 to present but will do so over the next six years.

Wow! That’s a hell of a wait if you are a rank and file cop putting yourself on the line every day. Let’s face it, with escalating inflation, any compensation is sure to be whittled away. It’s a hard piece of bread to swallow, that’s for sure!

(Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce)

For decades now crime has been out of control and successive administrations have been unable to come up with answers and significantly quell it.

It does not square when you say you want to achieve developed world status in eight years’ time while you consistently have one of the highest murder rates in the world and your citizenry cannot rely on law and order in going about daily life. Making these vaunted proclamations just turns out to be pie in the sky and the country never really makes it out of banana republic status.

The Government has again employed State of Emergencies (SOEs) to stave off the rising crime situation in the country and says it is the only solution. We have all seen this movie before and we know how it ends.

To protect citizens and to stand as a bulwark against lawlessness a well-equipped police service (not force) that is motivated, and morale is high is needed. Rank and file police workers on the frontline cannot be abused, taken for granted, disrespected by both the government and the people they serve.

Jamaicans must not remain in tacit agreement with the police’s claim. The people of this nation must voice their concerns and stand in solidarity with them as the police look to be fairly compensated for what is an arduous and dangerous job in this country.

Now let’s take the situation of PC Joe Bloggs in Arnett Gardens.

He has been asked together with his colleagues to intercede and subdue a battle between rival gangs where one gang member has gone into a rival’s community and has been playing ‘tidilywinks’ with a girl there “who belongs to di boss”. Guns shots ring out, women and children cry, blood splatters, bullets pierce abodes, men run in all directions gesticulating.

There’s a lull in the melee, enough time for PC Bloggs to get on his phone and catch up with the news. He scrolls, reads about all the government scandals, missing funds, boards buying shares without adequate disclosure, a former minister facing trial getting paid millions to step away from returning to a former job, the dollar at J$157 to $US$1, inflation, SOEs to tackle the insurmountable crime wave. The Government says revenues are up and the economy grew by 6.3 per cent between July to September.

The rat-a-tat-tat of an AR-15 takes him back to his reality. He prays to make it out of this and return to his girlfriend and two kids. Oh, by the way, the rent is due at the end of the month and it’s Christmas next. Perhaps I can make some additional money with some private security work. I hope I can get away with borrowing my pistol unnoticed from the armoury.

Fail to plan, plan to fail. 

(Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce)

The police are the bastion against the ogre of crime in this country. The task has become more difficult with the presence of the COVID-virus. More duties will be heaped on their shoulders and a simple thank you won’t do.

The police are threatening to withdraw their services this Christmas leaving Jamaica to anarchy and wanton lawlessness during the festive period.

What a way to end what already is an annus horribilis.

Pressing the police’s claim, chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation Rohan James is reported to have told the press: “ The Government has yet again failed to resolve the issue that was before the court, and hence the date was determined for the parties to see if there is any likelihood of a settlement to be arrived at without the matter going to trial.

“We have flatly rejected the offer because this is not something that we are negotiating on. It is whether or not the Government has time and is requesting time to compensate the members for work already done. We believe we have sacrificed enough.”

The Jamaica Police Federation is willing to settle at $1.5 billion and if one makes a quick calculation, it would be advisable to access funds and pay them and focus on addressing the crime problem….with the help of the police.

It is said that crime cost Jamaica some $120 billion a year. It is hoped that there will be a bumper tourism season bringing in much needed foreign exchange. The last thing visitors want to see is a heavy para-military presence while they enjoy what the country has to offer.

If the police do go on strike, the military will have to take up the slack. That is not a good look for Jamaica and bears all the hallmarks of a failed state. The police’s demand for this overtime compensation is not a sudden request, putting the Government on the spot during this difficult time. It has fallen on deaf ears for years and now the police are disgruntled, fed-up and feel they have to endure an ever-increasing workload without being fairly compensated.

Last week, $7.5 billion was found to stem the slide of the dollar, which didn’t quite work out, nevertheless, this action was immediate. The police may well argue that its claim is just as necessary requiring expeditious attention.

The rule of law must prevail in Jamaica. It has to and the Government must see to it that it does.

An April file photo of Jamaican Police conducting spot-check exercises along Eastwood Park Road in St Andrew. (Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce)

The average murder rate for the entire country now stands at 55 per hundred thousand. There have been 1230 murders so far this year, a 12 per cent increase on the same period last year. The MP for South-East St Ann Lisa Hanna makes note that last Saturday, 12 people were murdered and that four Jamaicans can expect to be murdered every day.

These are shocking numbers and further the case for effective policing that is adequately equipped and can focus on the job knowing it is fully supported by the state.

Addressing crime has to be a top priority for the government and the first order of business for the Prime Minister. No country can call itself developed where murder and crime
 are allowed to flourish and thrive.

Now, who’s going to help stop this from happening? Who are you going to call upon to uphold the law?

The police, so pay them.


What To Read Next