Wednesday, 30 November 2011

10 Things to Make a Better Jamaica Police

In a nutshell, here are 10 ideas for improving the police (in no particular order):

1. Cyber Crime Division. Expand the cyber crime unit to a much larger division with greater expertise in cybersecurity. There is a growing threat to the public from cyber criminals, like those involved in identity theft and the lottery scams targeting Jamaican and foreign nationals. Not to mention cyber espionage and the theft of sensitive economic data.

2. County-level policing. Re-organise the police into 3 main departments, namely the Cornwall County Police Dept., the Middlesex County Police Dept. and the Surrey County Police Dept. These 3 main divisions would provide larger jurisdictions for a more efficient patrolling and response to distress calls. No more itsy bitsy jurisdictions choking off the police in their hot pursuit of the bad guys. No police should see a crime unfolding and say 'That's out of our jurisdiction.' The current geographic divisions such as Area One, Area Two etc. need to be reviewed and updated. See: Geographic Areas, Divisions & Key Formations.

3. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Use them for highway patrol, search and rescue, surveillance of suspected ganja fields and the tracking of getaway suspects during car and foot chases etc. The police on the ground need support from the air. It's as simple as that.

4. Standardise police station architectural designs. Divisional headquarters should have the exact same layout and amenities. And the sub-stations should also have the exact same layout and amenities etc. Right now, there are some buildings leased by the government to use as police stations that are not suitable for such use. In some instances the police are unable to adequately interview individuals who wish to report a crime in person. No privacy. No confidentiality. No law and order.

5. Standardise police vehicles. Police cars should have partitions separating the front seats from the rear passenger seats. A single police officer should feel comfortable transporting multiple detainees seated in the back. Really? And all patrol vehicles should have a netbook with secure wireless intranet connection for accessing police database of the most wanted fugitives, licensed firearm holders data and driver's license data etc.

6. Merge the Marine Police with the Coast Guard so that there is a larger and more efficient Coast Guard under the command of the Jamaica Defence Force. Jamaica only needs one maritime security and defence force at sea. Whether inshore or offshore, the Coast Guard is all we need. Out with the Marine Police.

7. Merge Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Island Special Constabulary Force into a single police force and rename it Jamaica Police Agency. 'Constabulary' is a remnant of the colonial era, dump it. Nobody call the police 'Constabulary' anyway. We can also do without the 'Force' in the police's name, since we'd prefer less firepower and more brainpower in maintaining the peace.

8. A police detective school. The current police academy at Twickenham Park, needs such a school to transform the police from an army of Rambo to an army of Sherlock Holmes. So once again, less firepower and more brainpower.

9. Jamaica-made uniforms. The Ministry of National Security should help to reduce Jamaica's trade deficit (in a small act of patriotism) by sourcing uniforms and accoutrements from local manufacturers. The government is always chanting 'Buy Jamaican!' yet they do otherwise. The private security firms 'Buy Jamaican!' so put your money where your mouth is.

10. Beat and Foot Patrols should wear appropriate attire that gives them the advantage when chasing suspects on foot. How about running sneakers and jogging suits clearly marked 'Police' and have a unique design patented for exclusive use by the police? Yes, indeed. The police cannot run as best as they should in their current uniform and heavy boots, so many times they are either outrunned by the crooks, or don't even bother to give chase. The jogging outfit would also send a very clear message: This police is ready to chase you down from Negril Point to Morant Point. And back to Negril!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Canada To Set Up Military Base In Jamaica

And so it is in the news, once more. Canada negotiating a deal to establish a forward operating base in Jamaica:

OTTAWA, Canada, CMC – A top Canadian military official says that Ottawa is negotiating an arrangement with Jamaica to allow the Canadian military to stage out of the Caribbean island in the event of trouble or even natural disasters in the region.
Lieutenant General Stuart Beare, who’s in charge of Canada’s overseas military force, said that the two Commonwealth partners have been quietly developing closer ties that recently manifested itself with the deployment of three CH-146 Griffon helicopters to back up the Jamaica Defence Force.  
“We have a great partnership in the region,” he told reporters, adding “geographically, it’s in a perfect spot”. 
Beare said Jamaica’s position puts it at “an interesting crossroads” in the region, which has suffered its share from disasters ranging from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to repeated hurricane devastation. Read more

And the press release goes on and on about historic military ties and Canada providing military aid to Jamaica by training JDF commandos and building the Jamaica Military Aviation School and helping out with search and rescue missions etc.

A radar tracking station (left) and Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack airplanes (right).

Next year, Jamaica celebrates its 50th year as a sovereign nation, and how ironic that the Canadians will be arriving in time for the party, with military boots on the ground and a license to fly in and out of Jamaican airspace, at will. As a part of this deal, will the minister of national security (or the minister of defence) asked the Canadians to first establish a radar trafficking station and an airbase for the JDF Air Wing, along with two Super Tucano light attack aircraft, before they go ahead and set up this (temporary) base? And how long would they need to have this military base in Jamaica? Surely not half as long as the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Right?

The government cannot afford to sell Jamaica short on a deal of this nature. When the Canadians do decide to pack up and leave, Jamaica should have something worthwile to show for agreeing to 'compromise its national sovereignty.' The endgame is that Jamaica should become far better equipped and skilled, in patrolling and defending its own territorial airspace.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

JCF Marine Police: A Sick Joke!

Fisherfolks under siege according to this Jamaica Observer news article:

THE group of fishermen who huddled together on the Old Harbour Bay fishing beach in St Catherine last Tuesday helping a colleague haul his boat in after a day at sea, seemed less affected by the scorching midday sun than the recent rash of crimes there.
Expressions of alarm spread across the faces of those who stood listening to another's tale of the most recent robbery that took place in the fishing village.
"A pure robbery a gwaan inna the place. Just a few days ago dem rob a man boat engine and all now we nuh hear or see the authorities," said the fisherman, who identified himself as Winston Graham.
One of his colleagues at first expressed dismay at the news, but soon launched into a harsh verbal assault on the absent 'authorities', who he claimed were dragging their feet in tackling the surging crime problem in the fishing village. Read more.

And some interesting comments from the Old Harbour Police:

A major obstacle is that no marine police are stationed at the Old Harbour Police Station, despite the fact that it is a seaside town, known to be a hub for the guns-for-drugs trade.
Perry explained that Marine Police boats were at the Marine Police headquarters in Kingston and the local police find themselves unable to respond to reports of crimes at sea as quickly as they would like. The problem has been a subject of discussion for the police high command which have begun planning to establish a post in the area.
"Marine police have been holding discussions to address this problem, but the lack of a secure location where boats can be docked safely remains one of the problems hindering them from moving forward," Perry said.

Can you believe that? According to a much earlier Jamaica Observer news article, the Ministry of National Security in 2006 bought 40 boats for the Marine Police Division at a cost of $5 million USD ($325 million JMD); and here we are just 5 years later, with the Old Harbour Police saying there are discussions to address the problem of patrolling the Old Harbour Bay. Wow! When the Ministry of National Security decided to buy a new fleet of boats, they didn't take into consideration that new facilities would also be required for stationing the boats in areas where out stations didn't exist before? And also an increase in the operating budget for fuel and maintenance repairs etc? What kind of planning is this? Should the Marine Police and their boats camp on the beach like crabs and turtles? And where are all these 40 boats now? In a storage place, waiting for gas money?

It is pretty clear to me, that the Marine Police is nothing but a sick joke. This pdf document showing the KEY JCF FORMATIONS doesn't even mention the Marine Police. On the second page, second from bottom, the Chaplaincy Unit is regarded as a 'Key JCF Formation' but no Marine Police Division, is listed. WTF?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Coast Guard: Stan Patrol 4207 vs Combat Boat 90

The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard acquired 3 Damen Stan Patrol 4207 offshore patrol vessels in 2005 and 2006. These 3 ships were commissioned HMJS Cornwall, HMJS Middlesex, and HMJS Surrey. HMJS means Her Majesty's Jamaica Ship. These ships were acquired to boost Jamaica's maritime patrol capability, but one has to wonder why this platform was chosen when at least one better option was available for the myriad of missions the Coast Guard is mandated to accomplish, and to do so, on a tight budget. From the Coast Guard's web page:
The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard is the naval arm of the Force. The JDF Coast Guard is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in Jamaica’s maritime domain. This domain is approximately 240,000sq km or approximately twenty five times the size of the mainland. Two of the missions executed by the Coast Guard are maritime safety and maritime law enforcement. Maritime safety involves search and rescue, pleasure craft inspections, response to oil spills and other hazardous substances. Maritime law missions include fisheries protection, drug interdiction, and customs and immigration.
With budget allocation for the JDF being at 0.6 percent of GDP (2007), the Coast Guard does not have the luxury of assorted inshore and offshore patrol vessels at its disposal, that can accomplish all its missions. Therefore, in my opinion, they need to make do with a single type of vessel that's versatile enough to do both inshore and offshore patrol, search and rescue, and drug interdiction etc. And to accomplish all of that, it is essential that the chosen boat has amphibious landing capability. I don't know what capabilities the JDF was looking for in a mission critical platform, but the Combat Boat 90 (CB90) should have been the preferred choice. Let's compare the capabilities:

JDF Coast Guard (Stan Patrol 4207) County class offshore patrol vessels.

The number 1 challenge to the JDF Coast Guard is to interdict suspected Go-fast drug boats speeding away on the high seas. Can the Stan Patrol 4207 which travels at up to 30 knots, chase down, out-maneuver and stop a Go-fast boat that travels at up to 80 knots and beyond? Would the CB90, at speeds of up to 45 knots, and superior maneuvering capability, not provide a better challenge in this cat-and-mouse game of high-speed chase? If the bandits cannot out-maneuver a fast attack CB90 supported by a JDF Air Wing helicopter and decided to crash on the beach to try to escape on foot, the CB90 could also land on the beach to deploy Coast Guard commandos to give chase, and that would be a dead-end for the bandits. But currently with the Stan Patrol 4207s and other inshore patrol boats in the Coast Guard's inventory, this amphibious landing capability is missing and leaves a major gap in their maritime law enforcement capability. The drug-runners on the high seas know they have the upper hand and it's open season. That's the long and short of it. Now, let's look at a search and rescue scenario:

Combat Boat 90 configured as a fast attack vessel and as a sea ambulance (inset).

American Airlines flight 331 crashed and broke in three, after landing at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday, December 22, 2009. The plane on landing, failed to stop and overshot the runway, crashed through a perimeter fence, went across the Norman Manley highway, and then halted a few meters from the Kingston Harbour (shown in the picture below). Now, can you imagine a worse case scenario with the plane crashing into the water and partially submerging before the passengers could escape? What search and rescue effort could the Coast Guard have mounted with the Stan Patrol 4207 and a handful of other inshore vessels? They would have needed sea ambulances at the ready to provide life-support for the unconscious, and a means to quickly transfer the victims to ambulances arriving on the beach. Would the CB90 configured as an ambulance (shown in the inset picture above) not have provided a better platform for this critical mission, in both deep and shallow waters, than the Stan Patrol 4207? Yes, it would. Coast Guard divers with CB90 sea ambulances at the scene would've been the greatest hope for the passengers and crew. Otherwise, all would have perished. And, it is important to note, that no seaborne emergency crew arrived at the crash scene of flight 331. Neither Coast Guard nor Marine Police appeared along the coastline to offer assistance and secure the area. If I am wrong, I stand to be corrected, but you'd be hard pressed to find a photo showing a JDF Coast Guard or a Marine Police vessel within close proximity of that crash.

American Airlines flight 331 overshoots runway at Norman Manley Intl Airport, Kingston.

Middle Cay at Pedro Bank. Located about 80 km south and southwest of Jamaica.

One more thing. Shown in the last photo above is one of the four cays that make up the Pedro Cays, in the Pedro Bank area that is very important to the Jamaican fishing industry. It is inhabited by a fishing village and a Coast Guard Station, that has no pier to accommodate a Stan Patrol 4207. For policing the area and providing general assistance to the fisher folks, the CB90 is once again more suitable for those shallow waters. No need for sailors to disembark from a HMJS Middlesex unto a smaller boat, and then jump off into the water to come ashore. JDF, do the right thing.

When next you go shopping for a Coast Guard vessel, choose a versatile platform with (1) amphibious landing capability that can accomplish rapid insertion of security agents anywhere along the Jamaican coastline; (2) speed that can match the Go-fast drug boats in a high-speed chase; (3) can be reconfigured as an ambulance for search and rescue and the rapid transfer of badly injured victims to ambulances on the beach; and (4) patrol our river ways such as the Black River and others, if needs be. No Jamaican territory should be inaccessible to our security agents and search and rescue teams, because they lack the right equipment.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme Remains In Limbo

Excerpts from a Jamaica Gleaner newspaper article:

PLANS FOR the much-vaunted Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme seem to have fallen by the wayside following the departure of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Dunn who was appointed to lead the national drive to arrest the wide-scale theft of livestock and other farm produce on December 15, 2009.

"I have nothing to tell you on that right now," Dr Marc Panton, chief technical director in the agriculture ministry, told The Gleaner on Wednesday. " I just don't have anything I can tell you, honestly."

Dunn, for whom the post of praedial larceny prevention coordinator was created, quit in March over concerns about the ministry's ability to continue to pay his salary. This was just after the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Crime Stop which seemed destined to raise the public awareness about the theft of farm produce which has been quoted at $5 billion annually. However, many people believe this figure to be well below the real figure, given that a lot of theft goes unreported.

disappointing situation

Crime Stop Manager Prudence Gentles was particularly disappointed with the failure to build on the strategies put in place to facilitate the requisite networking among stakeholders in agriculture to mount a sustained assault against praedial larceny.

"What has happened since then, I have absolutely no idea," she told The Gleaner.

"I wish I could assist you. I'm not too sure what is happening with the anti-praedial larceny. I think the only place that you can go and find that out is the Ministry of Agriculture," she suggested.  Read more
Seriously now, if the powers that be were serious about tackling this problem, would they've hired a 'lone ranger' in the agriculture ministry to come up with a reward-for-information public campaign programme to solve this problem? What business does the Ministry of Agriculture has in law enforcement? Is that their mandate? Praedial larceny is a crime like all other crimes affecting businesses of every kind, and is a law enforcement issue. Should the banks likewise, turn to the Ministry of Finance to hire a security consultant to come up with a reward-for-information programme to catch debit card fraudsters? And the telephone companies should turn to the Ministry of Telecommunications for security guards to protect their copper cables from scrap metal scavengers? What a joke.

This crime problem affecting farm owners is a matter for the Ministry of National Security, the police and the farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture has nothing to do with securing privately-owned farms. The farm owners should work with the police in their communities, as well as private security experts, who could easily recommend wireless perimeter protection and intrusion detection systems, appropriate for large and small farms. It's just common sense. Get detection systems that can detect intrusions and record images of the intruders. If the intruders manage to get away, you'll have images that readily identify the culprits, that can be published on Wanted posters in the communities and circulated on social media and shown on the TV news. Criminals don't like publicity and the information technologies at our finger tips are our greatest weapons against the bandits. Use them. The greatest thing is that you'll have undeniable evidence of who's committing these crimes, and will be able to score victory after victory in the courts. Far better than a call-in programme where the crooks themselves would be calling to make mischief on innocent people, by sending the police to their homes on wild goose chases.

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