Bold steps forward
Police Commissioner of Jamaica Owen Ellington’s article updating the country on the measures implemented by the constabulary to rid its ranks of corrupt individuals is most encouraging.
For in it we see an organisation that has taken very bold steps to remove a most nasty stain that has spread over decades.
Commissioner Ellington is indeed correct in his assertion that “ethics and integrity are … the platform upon which any organisation that offers service to the public builds trust”.
As such, we wish to encourage Ellington and the other members of the constabulary who are committed to upholding ethical standards in the police force.
This anti-corruption drive actually had its genesis during the tenure of former Commissioner Francis Forbes, but gained strength under former Commissioner Lucius Thomas and was pushed even more by former Commissioner Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin.
Current Commissioner Ellington has been even more resolute in his support for the drive to the point where his commitment has earned him quite a few enemies within the ranks of the constabulary.
However, Ellington’s uncompromising stance has our support, because his cause is just and the country will be better off for it in the long run.
We don’t believe that the constabulary will ever be free of corruption. After all, the organisation is made up of human beings, some of whom will always yield to temptation.
However, as former Commissioner Thomas told this newspaper in January 2006, the police force should work at getting corruption to the point where it becomes an exception, rather than the norm.
Commissioner Ellington tells us that the policy has so far resulted in 400 cops being cashiered, and based on the number of reports received against members of the constabulary last year — 2,240, an average of six daily — it appears that the police force is starting to clear the hurdle of public trust.
According to Commissioner Ellington, analysts have pointed out that “citizens are confident that their reports will be handled in a fair and impartial manner, and that the investigations will be speedy, and a resolution sure”.
We are impressed that the screening process has been enhanced to examine applicants’ debts as well as their activities in cyberspace.
Equally, we are encouraged by the apparent rigorous process of psychometric evaluation, panel interviews, ethical screening and mandatory polygraph testing that serving members must undergo to gain promotion, as well as to re-enlist.
Commissioner Ellington also tells us that all candidates “must be compliant with the provisions of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, which stipulates the yearly submission of declaration of assets and liabilities”, and that they must also submit to the High Command, receipts from their last three declarations.
These requirements will go a far way in preventing individuals of questionable character from becoming or remaining agents of the state, equipped with considerable power that impacts the lives of citizens.
Commissioner Ellington and his predecessors should be heartily congratulated for their commitment to this policy.
Keep marching forward, Commissioner Ellington, you and your team are doing Jamaica a great service.