Editorial | Weeding corruption from the JCF

Rear Admiral Lewin, who – like the current head of the constabulary, Major General Antony Anderson – is a former chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and also had a stint as the police commissioner, welcomed the action against the Renko gang. Cleaning the force was important to lifting public confidence in the institution, he argued

Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin will find strong support for his call for aggressive action to clear the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) of corrupt members. But the outcome of any such campaign is likely to be limited if its focus is only on rank-and-file cops involved in the petty, and the more visible, aspects of criminality.

For some tainted juniors, including some who will gain reputations as tough “frontline crime-fighters”, should they stay in the force long enough, will eventually be promoted to senior positions where their corrosive influence can cause greater damage.

We make no claim about what has happened in the past. However, the JCF has long been perceived as a corrupt institution, whose members demand, and receive graft and often behave with impunity and with disregard to citizens’ rights. It is also seen as an organisation that is resistant to change, which eventually either consumes or co-opts leadership that hankers for its transformation.

Some of these views were thrown into sharp relief recently with the revelation that at least eight of the members (30 per cent), including the leader, of a 27-member criminal gang operating in the central parish of Clarendon, were police officers. Seven of the suspects had been arrested and one was on the run. The so-called Renko gang was said to be involved in extortion and robberies. Its alleged leader, a police constable named Tafari Silvera, is also accused of conspiring to murder someone the gang believed was a police informant.

Rear Admiral Lewin, who – like the current head of the constabulary, Major General Antony Anderson – is a former chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and also had a stint as the police commissioner, welcomed the action against the Renko gang. Cleaning the force was important to lifting public confidence in the institution, he argued.

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