THE EDITOR: Should anyone aspire to be police commissioner? The job appears to be fraught with trouble and worries – danger, disrespect and uncertainty. Yet many people continue to compete for this position. Well, what can I say? Except that some people have that destiny.
This appears to be the fate of McDonald Jacob, a simple man without loud charisma, not demonstrating outstanding intellectual capacity although not pedestrian, but a steady dedicated technocrat committed to his chosen career.
Since his elevation to the top position, not based on the interview process, he has demonstrated true police work – a positive movement in the detection rate, ready and effective communication with the public, proactive responses with regard to spikes in the murder rate by beefing up police presence, recalling officers from leave, and leading from the front without trying to hog the limelight.
His latest action on the killing of PC Clarence Gilkes in Diego Martin on April 22 – the quick suspension of three officers, the sending on leave of a very senior officer and his replacement by another senior officer from Tobago, a division far removed from the scene of the crime – will certainly boost the confidence of at least people in a certain sector of the society who believe that in the past their cries for just treatment by the police and those in authority were never heard.
This is not to cast aspersions on the officers aforementioned nor the perceived outcome of the not-yet-completed investigation but merely to highlight the professional attitude of the top cop who, despite the clamour of the middle and upper classes for the police to be more forceful in dealing with the crime situation and the strong temptation for increased use of force to appease this segment, is proceeding with a strong conviction for justice and fairness for all.
It is in this regard that I return to my original question as to why anyone should aspire to be police commissioner and to refer to a recent radio discussion on “the fairness or unfairness of judging a police commissioner’s performance by the murder rate.”
Notwithstanding an unscientific poll indicating that such judgment cannot be fair, both radio presenters insisted that the murder rate was a fair measure of the commissioner’s performance. Is this for real? What about the role of the judiciary and the ineffectiveness of the legal system? Despite their hard work that results in swift detention of suspects, the police see their work frustrated by a bail-friendly legal system aided by politicians.
Are police to be blamed for a single-parent syndrome, poverty and a reduction in the teaching of religious and Christian principles that are producing young adults without love and guidance who only see a life of crime as the way out of their predicament? I think not.
I exhort radio presenters who have the capacity to influence young minds and the population to have another look at the challenges faced by the police and the work of the top cop.
Port of Spain