Don't tell us, show us

Police at a crime scene in Malabar, Arima on Friday. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Police at a crime scene in Malabar, Arima on Friday. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob seemed to be following an old and ineffective playbook for police leadership in announcing new crime-fighting plans.

The only mercy that's been shown to a population weary of such announcements is that these efforts at crime control no longer sport outlandish operational names.

It's unclear why the police should feel moved to notify the public that they are doing their job – in this case, responding to ten murders in a year that is only now entering its second week.

It's one thing to notify the public of specific operations that might limit access or create traffic, and quite another to offer vague promises to deal with crime.

Mr Jacob is in the unusual position of acting in a job for which he was, to be blunt, the eligible candidate who was available.

That's pretty far from being chosen to do a job, but it's also no reason not to take the opportunity to push his officers to do their jobs with greater, more visible efficiency.

And the Acting Police Commissioner has more than just the challenge of crime to deal with.

The Police Welfare Association is keen for him to address the promotion of more than 2,700 officers to the ranks of corporal or sergeant.

He is also managing an under-vaccinated Police Service that is being called on to face down an under-vaccinated population in an environment of widespread covid19 infection. His officers in the field are facing frustrated citizens willing to flout health regulations.

It's not as if he isn't aware. The covid19 toll among police officers reached 29 last week, with four dying in that week alone.

"My officers are dying as a result of the people who are choosing to go and organise all these little parties," Mr Jacob said.

In his frustration with the situation, he called, somewhat unfairly, on the media to "be a little tougher on people in society who are organising these things."

Supporting his officers in the field is even more critical at this time and the acting CoP must mount a more effective internal campaign within the police corps to encourage wider acceptance of vaccination. It simply isn't enough settle for encouraging officers to be vaccinated or to adhere to all protocols for sanitising.

The temptation to defend his officers is understandable, but the police service must do more to protect and serve its own.

Mr Jacob should not be tempted to talk about the work he is expected or planning to do; he should use his time in office to advocate for the rule of law in the face of restriction fatigue, and use more effective communications methods to encourage his officers to do more to defend themselves against covid19.


"Don't tell us, show us"

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