Mon | Jun 17, 2019

Editorial | Looking after the police

Published:Saturday | March 23, 2019 | 12:09 AM

We applaud the Government’s plan to renovate 100 police stations across the island as a most deserving project. The crumbling infrastructure that is commonly seen in most police stations has long been a source of discomfort for the police and the public they serve.

In making the announcement of the $2 billion renovation project, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his Government wanted to demonstrate the value placed on the work of the security forces by improving their physical space.

Indeed, a dysfunctional working environment makes it difficult for workers to perform at their best. Along with impairing the employees’ performance, it also damages the reputation of an organisation.

It is a fact that the men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force work under stressful physical and mental conditions, trying to protect and serve communities which are sometimes under the thumbs of brazen criminals.

Besides the inherent danger associated with their job, police personnel typically work long hours and those in crime-infested communities are kept busy responding to incidents. If they also work under miserable conditions, they cannot give their best performance.

When a complainant attends a police station and is greeted by the mangled remains of wrecked vehicles, broken-down and discarded furniture, dirt and grime, poorly maintained sanitary facilities and often no water, what is he to think of the police?Surely, this contributes to the growing lack of respect and appreciation for the work that the police do from day to day.

The conditions of one’s employment are a reflection of how much one is valued and appreciated.

Not only do some of these buildings which were constructed during colonial times lack restrooms, many have no appropriate meeting rooms for complainants to have a conversation or even for accused persons to meet with their legal representatives.

Business is conducted in an open guardroom before all and sundry.

BETTER WORKING ENVIRONMENT

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang promised in 2018 that this would change. He promised that proper office spaces will be designed so that a complainant will be met in a reception area, rather than the guardroom, where he will be interviewed in private.

Back then, the minister spoke about a Budget commitment of $3 billion to be used for basic improvement and construction of 122 stations. He also announced that divisional headquarters will be built in Port Antonio, Port Maria, Savanna-la-Mar and Spanish Town. We expect that the rotting shells of impounded vehicles that present an eyesore at so many of these stations will be cleared away once and for all in the process of this upgrading and renovation work.

Improved mobility, better working environment and reasonable remuneration are the ingredients that will ensure greater commitment by the members of the security forces and will hopefully raise their morale, which is reported to be at a low level.

There is an abundance of literature that links workplace stress with high turnover, low morale and lack of commitment. This investment in the well-being of the women and men in uniform will impact the entire nation if it ultimately leads to smarter, more dedicated crime-fighting and a reduction in crime and violence.