Respect for all - New commish vows to build trust in police

September 16, 2014 3:21 PM

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Published: Tuesday | September 16, 2014

Dr Carl Williams yesterday took the reins as Jamaica's 28th commissioner of police, vowing to increase the level of trust between the men and women under his charge and the citizens they serve and protect, while weeding out corrupt cops who tarnish the reputation of force.

Continue the process of making the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) a professional organisation.

Focus on ensuring that the police respect the human rights of citizens.

Continue making significant progress in the fight against organised crime and corruption.

As at last Sunday, 699 reported murders this year, an average of just over 2.7 per day; 789 reported shootings; 1,507 reported robberies and 465 reported cases of rape. (It should be noted that the figures quoted for all the categories listed were taken from the JCF's latest Periodic Serious and Violent Crimes Review and represents a decline when compared with the corresponding period last year).

Weak investigative capacity, with only an average 16 per cent of all major crimes reported this year being cleared up. This has led some public commentators to posit the view that criminals are literally getting away with murder.

Eighty-eight reported police killings so far this year after recording 258 last year and 219 in 2012.

A perception of widespread corruption among members of the JCF. In the first half of this year, 47 police personnel - including 15 for June alone - were removed from the force for corruption-related issues.

A perception of widespread corruption among members of the JCF. In the first half of this year, 47 police personnel - including 15 for June alone - were removed from the force for corruption-related issues.

A fleet of more than 1,800 vehicles (Former police commissioner Owen Ellington indicated last year that the JCF requires 3,000 vehicles to be effective).

More than 11,000 police personnel following the JCF's merger with the Island Special Constabulary Force.

Anti-gang and lottery scam legislation to go after two of the main producers of violence.

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), which has been mandated to go after the kingpins of the criminal underworld and stamp out corruption.

Improved forensic investigative capacity with the merger of the Forensic Laboratory and the Legal Medicine Unit, along with increase training for ballistics experts.

Armed with local support and bolstered by an impressive cache of goodwill, Dr Carl McKay Williams yesterday formally assumed his position at the vanguard of the war being waged against crime.

As Williams stepped on the dais for the first time as commissioner of police - the 28th to be appointed in the history of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) - he signalled that he was acutely aware of the challenges his team was forced to take on.

"Under my leadership, the Jamaica Constabulary Force will do anything to respond to your concerns," he asserted, in clear reference to the scores of Jamaicans waiting with bated breath to hear him as he stood in the presence of numerous stakeholders, colleagues and well-wishers.

"Whether you are a victim of praedial larcency in a rural parish, or a victim of violent crime in an urban community; whether you live in Cherry Gardens or in Seaview Gardens, you are entitled to, and should expect to receive, the full protection of the law."

Williams, a soft-spoken police veteran of 30 years, boldly accepted the instrument that symbolised the change of command from another veteran, Glenmore Hinds, who had acted as police commissioner since Owen Ellington's sudden departure in July.

It was the unmistakable signal of fresh expectations of a new beginning in the battle against crime.

It was obvious that this reality did not escape Hinds. He noted that Williams had taken command against the backdrop of crime trending down by 40 per cent over the last five years. He stressed that these gains must not be lost.

Hinds said that while the perception of poor professional conduct in the force was both undesirable and not necessarily true, the JCF continued to struggle to gain public acceptance.

"We must work to remove the negative trend," he said as he welcomed Williams to the front line of the battle.

Williams seized the opportunity to laud several commissioners who preceded him, including Ellington and Lucius Thomas, both of whom were in attendance for the ceremony at the Hope Road, St Andrew-based Police Officers' Club.

The throng of well-wishers included Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, National Security Minister Peter Bunting, as well as Justice Minister Mark Golding and Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith.

Gazetted members of the JCF, bedecked in police regalia, as well as members of the army and the judiciary, watched as commands were barked at the JCF unit with the accompanying band heralding the ceremony under overcast skies.

It was against this backdrop that Williams spoke to Jamaicans in his commissioner's attire. He expressed gratitude to the Police Service Commission for reposing confidence in him to lead the JCF, as well as the people of Jamaica.

He promised that he would do all in his power to lead the team endowed with the mandate to serve and protect, particularly the rights of persons.

Williams said he was painfully aware that police personnel have been confronted with the dilemma of protecting people's rights, while seeking to restrain them while carrying out their duties to serve and protect.

In that vein, Williams promised high levels of accountability of the police personnel he will lead in the bid to bridge the high levels of distrust between the police and the citizenry.

"This is the only way in which we can achieve a respectful society," he proclaimed.

Even as he has seizes the reins with serious crimes trending down, Williams stressed that there were no laurels on which to sit and promised to be unrelenting in bringing criminals to justice.

"We are committed to conducting our duties with impartiality under the law," he said.

Williams also sought to address critical issues concerning the scourge of corruption that has tainted many of his colleagues in the JCF as well as public personnel in high offices.

"I give you my personal commitment that the JCF will act decisively to remove members of the force who are found to be corrupt," he asserted.

He assured Jamaicans that attention will be shared by the team he leads in preventing farm theft, as well as to what is perceived to be hardcore violence against the vulnerable in volatile environments.

"All communities will be protected," declared Williams in his inaugural presentation that found favour with National Security Minister Peter Bunting.

He vowed that he would not stand by and allow the scourge to undermine and tarnish the efforts of the JCF to weed out corruption.


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