Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Strategies Review

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 30
Words: 8431
Reading time:
29 min
Study level: PhD


Following a serious public security and safety crisis in Jamaica, characterized by rising cases of violent crimes, corruption, human rights abuse, and a state of apathy in the formulation and implementation of public security policy, the government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of National Security, initiated a panel to carry out a strategic review of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and make its recommendations. The panel came up with 124 recommendations that would transform JCF into a different police outfit capable of efficient and effective discharge of duties.

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All these recommendations are significant for the transformation of the JCF. However, on the list is recommendation three, “The name of the JCF should be changed to the Jamaica Police Service”, which calls for change in the name of the JCF (Ministry of National Security 2007). [1] Unless we change the name, nothing will change, and any change shall be short-lived. So, what is in a name? One may wonder.


2.3. Matt 9:17; Mk 2:22; Luke 5:37-39 Luke 5:37, 38 “No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better” (Web).

We can look at the significance of name changes in the Bible and relate them to JCF reforms. There are significant name changes that took place in the Bible. Theologically, this may help us understand the significance of changing the name of the JCF to Jamaica Police Service. Most theological studies argue that God changed people’s names as a means of establishing a new identity. This was the case with Abraham and Sarah. This is also the case of Jesus and Peter. Occasionally, Jesus referred to Peter as “Simon” to reflect his old habits. A name change alone is not enough. Simon would act like his old self. There are no Biblical accounts of why God or Jesus changed these names. However, changes in names let people know that they have a new mission in life. New names are means of embracing the divine plan or reform and act as means of assuring us that such changes shall result in the fulfillment of plans or reforms. This also applies to JCF and the proposed Jamaica Police Service.

Resistance to Change

“No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better” (web).

Globalization and advancement are responsible for changes in social, cultural, economic, and political situations. However, change is not an easy phenomenon. Most organizations’ efforts of embracing change usually fail. In most cases, executives will blame their juniors for failures due to resistance to changes. Occasionally, this may be true. In most cases, executives do not understand the process of leading and implementing change. Thus, such leaders overestimate the level of change they can get from the organization. Successful formulation and leading change in a public institution such as JCF need more than people skills (Fullan 2001). [2]

Changes in an organization are aimed at transforming or modifying common trends in an organization. In all, the main reason is to enhance security and service delivery to the public in the case of JCF. Stakeholders will not participate in change processes that aggravate, or do not improve existing conditions.

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Changes or reforms in a public organization will affect the organization and the entire public. Thus, stakeholders must readily adapt to such changes. These changes are necessary for the JCF in order to adopt changes that the public needs, and combat the sophisticated, violent crime of Jamaica. People responsible for change must note that change is not an easy undertaking as there are a number of challenges that exist in the process.

Resistance to change has been the main problem in reforming most institutions, both public and private. People who resist change are always in the organization. Consequently, resistances to changes affect the efficiency and effectiveness of change processes, and the success of changes depends on mitigating these resistances. In the JCF change process, there are people who advocate change, accept change, are indifferent to change, and people that reject change.

There are several reasons why JCF may find it difficult to implement changes effectively in its current state. Most officers may resist such reforms from their own sensible perspective. Changes come with serious repercussions to employees. JCF consists mainly of officers who lack minimum requirements to serve in the force. Such officers are likely to lose their jobs or job security in the reform processes. It is human nature not to implement what threatens their current status. In the JCF setting, it implies that most of the executives and their juniors shall resist the reform process related to administrative and technological reforms that eliminate their jobs or reduce their roles. In their sensible perspectives, reforms in the police force are harmful and unnecessary. However, such resistances have harmful effects on the organization in the long run. Thus, the JCF change processes must address such needs before it can embark on reform processes in order to avoid strong resistances emanating from persons opposed to reforms.

Most people will also resist change if there are no rewards that come with such changes. Thus, JCF must propose appropriate reward systems for people who spearhead reforms. This is a form of motivation that aims at supporting reform processes. The JCF reform system must have rewards to steer the processes the force wants to implement. However, this should not be an opportunity for the JCF to burden the taxpayers with expensive reform processes.

The JCF officers may also reject change due to fear of the unknown. People may not know the immediate or long-term effects of such reforms. Therefore, this process should be transparent, and not serve as a source of surprises for the officers. The system must prepare the JCF for change. Preparation requires constant communication and feedback systems.

Police officers shall resist reforms to protect their interests or group interest within the force. In Jamaica, officers may resist such processes so as to protect cartels, gangs, corrupt politicians, and colleagues among other interests. This process may result in a climate of mistrust in the JCF. However, an effective reform process requires trust among all stakeholders. Otherwise, the reform initiative shall fail.

There are organizational politics that prevent change initiatives. This is even serious for a public institution like JCF. People shall attempt to resist some changes so as to prove that change initiatives are wrong decisions. Such people may also challenge the current composition of JCF by claiming that such leaders are not suitable to lead reforms as they are responsible for the current situation. Jamaica must call for a complete change to the entire police force. This may include searching for a new police boss (probably not from within the current police force) for facilitating reforms.

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People may resist changes because they doubt their qualifications and competency to meet new challenges that come with change. JCF does not use psychometric tests during recruitment and selection. Consequently, a number of its officers lack the basic qualification needed for effective service to the public. They are simply comfortable with what is within their knowledge. Most officers shall find it difficult to adapt to new initiatives proposed in the JCF reform agenda.

Some people may oppose change due to a lack of proper timing. However, this should not be the case in Jamaica as this process is necessary. The escalating violent crime rates provide an opportunity to make the JCF realize the need for reforms. The reform process shall also get support from the general public.

For any meaningful and effective change in the JCF, the country’s leadership must comprehensively address factors that may hinder reform processes. Thus, a change strategy that lacks strategies for mitigating resistance shall not be effective in Jamaica.


Stephen Covey, in the book First Things First, “describes a story that one of his associates experienced in a seminar. In the middle of the lecture, the presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, aside from some fist-sized rocks………….. “No”, said the presenter. “The point is if you don’t put the big rocks in first… would you ever have gotten any of them in?” (Web).

This is a thought-provoking experiment and observation that can apply to reform initiatives of the JCF. Reform initiatives have several activities. However, from these activities, there must be big rocks in the reform process. The point is to get big rocks first into the reform agenda and concentrate on low-priority issues. This also applies to the use of reform resources. This observation led to the theory of “big rock prioritization theory”.

Prioritization theory

Most successful reform initiatives have their priorities right. In situations whereby expectations are high, resources are few, and time is inadequate, we must prioritize goals beginning with the most important. Arrangement proposals in the order of their relative importance give an organization the opportunity of developing the most effective approach to implementing change initiatives with minimum resources. Prioritization calls for collaboration among all stakeholders in order to identify the most important requirement in the reform process. This is because the government does not always know security challenges affecting the country. Citizens are in a better position of providing such information. On the other hand, citizens also may not understand the technical aspects and resources needed for the implementation of reforms effectively.

The panel must manage the scope of the JCF reforms against the challenges of the limited budget, timelines, staff resources, and effective goals. The most effective approach is to remove or defer the implementation of low priority reform needs. This provides an opportunity for the implementation committee to prioritize higher priority reforms and other changes necessary in arresting the escalating rates of violent crimes. In case, the public fails to identify their immediate security and safety need, then the government may help them do so. It is also crucial to note that, in most cases, the public may fail to agree with the reform panel’s decisions. In this case, it is necessary for the public to identify critical needs and those which can wait. All stakeholders must establish their lists of priorities earlier while there are still available options, and resources to cater to changes.

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Public reform processes require inputs of the public too. This is because the government alone will find it difficult to decide the immediate security needs without consulting the people affected. However, this is not an easy process given the national outlook it assumes. In addition, getting the views of the public from different sectors with diverse security and safety expectations and needs is even more challenging. Different stakeholders have their own interests regarding the reform process and outcomes; thus, conceding their expectations for the benefits of others are issues that setting priorities must address. However, the government must give its citizens a chance to identify their security and safety needs.

The public’s list of priorities shall indicate the most essential needs to them. However, the JCF has the responsibility of identifying technical challenges and costs associated with such priorities. This does not imply that low preferred priorities are not necessary. On the other hand, low-level priorities can contribute to the needed changes due to their limited demand for resources.

We must look at how name change shall affect service delivery to the public and enhance security in Jamaica. The public has a negative attitude towards JCF. They believe that a name change to Jamaica Police Service shall enhance the image of the force and improve its effectiveness and efficiency in its relationship with the general public (Jamaica Observer 2012). [3] Name change is a high priority in the strategic review of reforming the JCF.

The government and priority game

A number of local and international organizations interested in security and safety issues have shown their interests in the absence of resource integration, coordination, and prioritization in most public security initiatives. As a result, such organizations have concluded that security issues are not the priority for the government of Jamaica (Amnesty International 2008). [4]

Most critics have accused the government of Jamaica of knee-jerk responses in formulating and implementing public safety and security policies. Following the failed implementation of public security proposals in Jamaica, it will be difficult to convince the pessimistic public to set their security priority needs if they know that the government shall never implement their proposals (Jones 2004). [5] Consequently, the public may assume that priorities are not necessary. However, the government must have a clear plan for implementing these reforms. The public must note that the government may not bother with priority in reforming the JCF because it believes that it can implement every recommendation in the list. This implies that the public must take initiative and identify its priority in reforming the JCF.

In reform processes, there are some recommendations that are more important than others. We can notice the importance of such priorities during the implementation process. Identification of essential priorities should commence before the implementation process. Name change from JCF to Jamaica Police Service should be among the top priorities the panel should consider when formulating high-level priorities.

However, when evaluating priorities, we must evaluate the relationship between resources and align them with reform goals and national needs for security and safety.

The JCF has limited resources for implementing its reform recommendations. However, an attempt to address security and safety issues in Jamaica has resulted in several recommendations. The ongoing initiatives such as community policing are an additional cost to the force. Now, the challenge is to realize the effectiveness of such reform initiatives. We must note that the JCF operates in a volatile environment and where every member of the public can give his or her opinion on how the police should act, and how to act. Thus, achieving immediate outcomes in such an environment is highly challenging considering the increasing rate of violent crimes and cases of human rights abuse.

JCF is a complex organization. It has several units that support its operations. Thus, reforming and enhancing its policing habits and performance is a major challenge to the government. It must coordinate its reform efforts and provide services through its new organs. However, getting various stakeholders to agree on the reform agenda including a name change is not a simple task. Still, the work of each unit is different. This implies that JCF units have different priorities regarding reform agendas. We must understand that JCF operates in a complex situation that needs effective coordination from within and from the public, as well. Thus, any effective reform must make sense to all stakeholders and must reach the public.

We must understand that the failed implementation of the National Security Policy of 2007 indicates that there exist large disparities in the JCF’s abilities to implement any proposed reform. Different units of the JCF have different philosophies. Some sections of the force may be committed to the effective implementation of reform initiatives. This may include accountability and wise devolving of resources supported with a strong culture of change. Conversely, other arms of JCF may not display such a high level of commitment to change.

JCF and its reform panel must realize that managing change processes alone is not adequate. This is because of resistance that may emanate from senior-level executives. Publicly, the police may express the need to embrace change. However, some elements within the force may have their doubts about the process of change. In fact, most officers will demonstrate the willingness to adhere to reform initiatives publicly.

There is a common notion that additional resources immediately guarantee an effective implementation process. Conversely, the supply of abundant resources does not mean that security challenges and resources goals will come automatically. This implies that resources must meet their set priorities in delivering effective change to the public.

Making reforms happen in JCF requires the adequate address of the dispersed and disorganized structure. Ministry of National Security set up a panel to review the current status of JCF and propose changes and recommendations that would ensure change delivery into the force. The panel provided its recommendations in their order of priority. The panel helped the JCF and the public understand the current status of the force, and the security needs of the country. It also helped stakeholders understand the available resources, capacity, and possibilities of change in the JCF. The fundamental aims of such recommendations are to improve operations, and service delivery of the JCF. From different units of the force, prioritization of resources is necessary in order to realize effective changes.

Before starting any change process, JCF must understand its capacity to accommodate reforms. At the same time, it must also understand the impacts of such reforms. This calls for prioritizing essential reform recommendations. For instance, the JCF must address the issue of resources needed for meaningful change, constraints on the same resources, and effects that change will have on other priorities. These issues can become simple if the JCF can formulate its priority list and areas that need urgent reforms. Such priority can result in desired outcomes and policing model that can transform the JCF.

The JCF must also recognize that any given change shall not have uniform outcomes among its various units. The JCF hopes that name change shall transform its image before the public and enhance the community policing model. In this regard, the force must prioritize resources for planning and deployment of its officers so that the aims of reforms remain clear to the deployed officers. In addition, such priorities in planning and deployment must address the needs of the public at the community level. Prioritization of resources must also address the need for community partnership. This is because such initiatives cannot be successful without the cooperation of the locals. In all, all officers should support such initiatives and show that such changes are beyond media reassurances that JCF uses in response to waves of violent crimes.

The panel should also assess the capabilities of areas that need immediate reforms. This is crucial because the successful implementation of reforms comes from the experience, knowledge, and skills of the force. However, the challenge is whether the current composition of JCF has leaders that have such capabilities. The JCF can deploy John Kotter’s model as a tool for assessing its capabilities of handling change within its diverse units (8-step model in managing change). The model has been effective in assessing and shaping most organizations that are diverse and their abilities to deliver effective reforms. Different units of the force have different capabilities of delivering planned changes. In some instances, others will not be successful without supports.

The reform models must-have capabilities of addressing both people and cultural aspects of the organization. This is because the behaviors of people have effects on change outcomes. These behaviors may be part of the organizational culture.

The panel must create a reform model that has the capacity and capability of managing all units of the force and their resources. This must account for the JCF’s abilities for managing deployed resources and ensure that such resources fulfill their goals. There are needs for reforms among the public, and JCF; thus, the challenges are capabilities and capacities of the JCF composition to handle such reforms. However, in situations whereby the needs for reforms exceed the available organizational capacity and capability, then such reforms shall fail. In this case, prioritization of resources must apply through modification of available resources so as to fit immediate needs for desired outcomes. The implementing committee should also identify the affected units, required skills, processes of allocating the needed resources, availing the tools and resources that will facilitate changes, creating a sense of cooperation to enhance teamwork, and promote sharing of resources within the JCF. This also involves giving adequate attention to areas of priority and relating previous challenges in the past reform efforts. The panel may have to modify its plan, a sequence of actions, and relate outcomes with goals. At every stage, the implementing committee must review whether the implementation processes utilize scarce resources.

JCF Capacity for reforms

The panel on the strategic review of the JCF can create a chance for significant contributions that can alter the manner of reform implementation and realization of the outcomes in the JCF. This implies that Jamaica must develop a national capability approach that must drive the JCF reform. Thus, such capacity for change must ensure clarity at an early stage of implementation and enhance concentration so as to identify technical challenges that may hamper the reform processes. The assessment mechanism must be robust and determine the required resources by all other units of the force. In addition, it must also have a national outlook that JCF can replicate in other parts of the country. Such assessment instruments are necessary for understanding the outcomes of reforms initiatives. This means they must be up-to-date and show priority outcomes. The panel must also develop a plan that can assist the JCF to improve its capability in service delivery and realize its outcomes. Capacity building for reform processes also requires training of implementation teams on the reform management techniques. It should also offer the teams a model to support their priorities during every implementation stage. Capacity building for reforms must also develop an effective feedback mechanism on lessons learned from reform processes. This provides an opportunity for other units of the force to learn and share best procedures and practices.

Developing and achieving reforms in the force require both science and art. However, the right resources will facilitate the reform processes. The panel must take account of real issues at the ground level before embarking on deployment. This calls for the prioritization of resources and effective usages.


The Jamaica Constabulary Force serves as the arm of the government accountable for the maintenance of law, peace, and order in the island of Jamaica. The history of this force dates back to the 1650s a time when the British seized Jamaica. This time, it was necessary to have organizations in the local government concerned with issues of peacekeeping. The peace-keeping organizations depended on the citizens that volunteered themselves. However, not many citizens are devoted genuinely, due to underpaid services. In 1716, an act recommended that constables be provided with salaries and also spelled out their duties, as opposed to prior years.

Their duties would revolve around issues of justice, arresting lawbreakers, and criminals (USAID 2008)[6]. Twenty British pounds served as the salary for the citizens annually. However, this was the beginning of the long Jamaica Constabulary Force History.

Records of the office of constable in Jamaica dates back to the early 1670s. This is the time when the letter from Charles II of England informed Provost Marshall to arrange a meeting for the island’s Government. The letter emphasized the citizens volunteering for the service of office constables. However, a section of the citizens who were white resisted the initiative of voluntary service as a result of poor pay.

This improved after the act of 1716 recommended that the volunteering constables get pay of twenty British pounds and their duties are clearly defined. The act pinpointed their duties as that of apprehending lawbreakers, delinquents, and slaves.

In 1777, an act nullified the 1716 act and recommended an appointment of petty constables within a similar environment, though empowering legal authority to dismiss constables for indiscipline. In 1832, there were efforts to create an efficient, permanent police force, in reaction to the existing social and political discontent in the country, and threats of rebellious escaping slaves accused of lawbreaking and incitement. This came after a protest that Samuel Sharpe led during the Christmas period of 1831. At the time, no local organization existed, which could aid in arresting such a situation. Therefore, colonialists established an act of building a permanent police force. The police had the power to take relevant action in order to maintain public peace. The force had similarities to arming, clothing, and equipping to that of the British army. There was a division of the Island into townships with different heads. An Act in 1833 conferred power to the Governor to bring members from the British Dominions for the sole purpose of building the force. They emerged as three bodies, the constables, petty constables, and watchmen. In the 1856 Act, they put the three services into one. The inspectors received directives from the Governor with the payment coming from the public funds. The responsibilities were those that the parochial constables performed, that entailed court attendance, maintenance of peace, and arresting lawbreakers.

In 1865, Morant Bay experienced unrest that needed the service of the force. This proved as a challenge due to a lack of cooperation, coordination, and effective control of the force that existed between the parishes. As a result of the 1865 unrest, an Act in 1867, recommended the organization of the Jamaican Constabulary Force, a name it holds to date. Its creation was in line with Royal Irish Constabulary. Discipline and drill were significant on a semi-military basis. At the same time, the training of recruits began in Spanish town with an establishment of a Central Training Depot. At this point, there were strict rules on upward mobility especially on black Jamaicans who could not attain the rank of sergeant. In the year 1926, the first promotion of a black man (William Nathaniel) in the force took place. He got the rank of Staff Sergeant Major, a rank equal to the inspector. In 1938, the organized force went into a test of evaluating its competence in handling labor riots of the time. It proved its competence by exhibiting exceptional strength in bringing to an end the Island’s widespread riots. During the Second World War in 1946, the force faced challenges handling the social, economic, and political unrest on the Island. Mr. D. Calver, an officer of the London Metropolitan police, got involved in the inquiry and reports on the organization. After handing in the report, he assumed the post of commissioner of police with official instructions to influence necessary reforms. Under his order, the Force assumed a new direction with the development of the Women police in 1947. In 1960, the force had police Commissioners and Senior Officers that were expatriates through direct entry. In 1962, after the National independence, the rules controlling recruitment took a new turn and from then, only Jamaican Citizens could work in the Force. With expectations coming along with the independence, there was a need to have native leaders, and managers in all aspects of Jamaican life. The aftermath was a slow substitution of expatriate officers by Jamaicans from ranks in the Jamaica Constabulary Force. In 1973, Basil Robinson became the first indigenous police commissioner. This became a tradition of the natives, assuming the top ranks in the force, especially after the appointment of Col. Trevor McMillan as Commissioner of Police in 1993-1996. The period 1960-1970 was a chaotic and restless one. Racial tension was widespread in many of the Jamaican towns due to the Black Power movement becoming strong and effective. The period as well witnessed an increase in political aggressiveness. There were ranges of events that gauged the Force’s ability to curb insecurity and crime. They included Claudius Henry Reform Church rebellion in 1960, the Rastafarian uprising, Montego Bay that took place in 1963, the Anti-Chinese riots that took place two years later, political warfare in Western Kingston from 1966 to 1968, whose consequence was a state of emergency in 1968, and the Walter Rodney riots in 1968. This period oversaw some changes in police training as well as the creation of a Mobile Reserve Branch. In 1974, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, accelerated programs came into the limelight as an advanced adoption from the British Police Force. The last selection was carried out from the group of applicants totaled to 13 including the retired Police Commissioner Francis Forbes. In 1976, when the Island was in a state of emergency, the security forces seized this opportunity to exhibit the power to apprehend individuals failing to obey the emergency power Act. After the unrest of the State of Emergency, the forceful prevention of the Crime Act became law.

The year 1985 oversaw the creation of the JCF staff College in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine that served as a regional training institution for police inspectors and Gazetted Officer. Completion and recommendation of the Hirst Audit of the JCF took place in 1991. This report afterward resulted in various transformations in the structure of the management of the force.

In 1992, a range of recommendations concerning The National Task Force on Crime (Wolfe Report) took place. The recommendations revolved around issues of structure and management of the force that led to the appointment of Col. McMillan. However, majorities felt that only a person, not within the force would be suitable for leading the changes suggested. A commendable population supported this but not without a bit of internal resistance. In the year 1993, tradition broke as a result of the appointment of Col. Trevor McMillan, a native who never went for formal police training and also was not from within the force. In 1996, Col. McMillan resigned from the office, and instead selection of a Commissioner of Police from the force took place.

Another change evident in the force was the introduction of the Graduate Entry Program in the year 1996. In 1998, the launching of the Jamaica Constabulary Force took place with seven key areas to operate under the corporate attention over a five-year duration. The areas included Crime Management, Traffic Management, Community Based Policing, Human Resource Management, Service and Ethics, Financial and Physical Resource Management, and Restructuring of the Organization. In 2000, there was the launch of the Police Executive Research Forum report that bore 81 recommendations linked to the Police Force and Criminal Justice system. In 2005, the practice of foreign recruitment, which was rampant during the pre-independence, was back, with foreign nationals directly recruited as officer corps in the JCF, One Deputy Commissioner, and Assistant commissioners. This brought the sum to four. This number exceeded the normal number of the JCF. In the same year, the second launch of the corporate strategy took place. The operating JFC three-year corporate strategy creations were under the same theme of having a well-established JCF for the 21st century and concentrating on three significant issues. These included offering services that focus on reacting fast to the needs of citizens and communities while instilling confidence to individuals on the police force, handling crucial operational matters like crime, issues of road safety, and ensuring community safety, empowering the JCF’s organizational capacity for it to utilize its staff and resources. In 1993, Col. Trevor McMillan got an appointment from the Jamaican government to head the Revenue Protection Division as spelled by his records on political impartiality and incorrupt nature. This initiative from the government resulted in reform on the JCF. However, as negotiation failed on matters concerning the reform process, his contract came to an end, this came with a setback on reforms and an unpredictable situation on the reform prospect.

Efforts to reform the JCF may seem futile without changing the name itself and the force living up to its name. Political influence is an obstacle in the reform process. However, attention should be on rebuilding a new Jamaica Police Service. Having a long history of challenges with the JCF and failing to succeed in prior trials at reforms and troubles of having a new name (this is due to failure of implementing the recommendation of the Wolfe Report), the knowledge acquisition in Northern Ireland may formulate a significant template. After phasing out the old Northern Ireland Police Service, recruitment had to be done afresh. After being successful, they would undergo thorough training. This would be the way out to the success of the reforms recommended. With the formation of a new Jamaica Police Service, there would be efficient accounting systems and operational processes. With the brand new police service in existence, there would be no struggle of shedding off mistrust and the notion of corruption.

There exist numerous challenges in reform of the ex-colonial police (Harriott 2000). [7] In trials of curbing crime, police embrace heavy-handed strategies, to tame crime. This entails the recruitment of heavily armed police who abuse the citizen’s rights in the long run. Even today, the Jamaica Constabulary Force is military in style irrespective of many studies that recommend credible reforms and embrace a preliminary version of plans and programs. According to statistics, extrajudicial killings are 140-150 annually. Methods of investigation heavily depend on eyewitnesses instead of forensic investigation. The matter intensifies as a result of the urban poor alienating themselves from the police and bearing the notion of corruption within the force and the collaboration of the police with criminal gangs. Over years, mistrust between the police and the citizen exists. The weak system in terms of manpower, funds, and limitation in action holds the police accountable for breaching the law, and the expected standards. However, in all these, citizens are in fear of demanding crime-fighting tactics in fear for their personal safety in an environment with an elevated crime rate.

The reforms may not be visible if the Jamaica Constabulary Force fails to account for extrajudicial executions, acts of corruption and violation of human rights, established impunity for the human violations that leave victims helpless and with no option for seeking justice. In pursuit of public order, JCF undertakes unlawful killings that bar people they believe are likely to be enemies of the state and community. The JCF officers undertake the unlawful killings without any genuine reason for doing so, and if any reason it is that of self-defense from confronting gang members, which in most cases has no evidence. Another setback of the reform process is the prejudiced view the public officials hold over the groups of individuals languishing in poverty in the residents of the poor. This elevates stigmatization of the victims reinforcing the view that these individuals deserve their fate. The presence of inequality, in regard to the implementation of social, cultural, and economic rights of people in the areas of the minority, and other groups of Jamaicans imply neglect of these communities. The force fails to offer representatives that account and respond to human rights-based policing to individuals inhabiting communities socially excluded. This consequently leaves space for gangs to assume.

Social-economic problems contribute to Jamaica’s dreadful murder rate and the history of violence, which is usually in connection with politically supported stationed troops. Criminal gangs have collaborated with political parties in the past, and now they have united with the US, UK, and the Colombian drug trade that is a menace to the entire Jamaican society. This makes murder and fatal shootings in Jamaica, top the list globally, not forgetting threatening terror attacks. Several reports like Wolfe’s report and the Report of the National Committee on Crime and Violence have made significant recommendations. Therefore, the necessary initiative is a framework and a timetable for execution. In addition to the many recommendations, the army’s task should be spelled out clearly, together with changing the existing structure of the JCF. The redefinition should consider setting aside resources for threats, for instance, reinforcing the Coast Guard, reinforcing the intelligence capabilities and the air wing, and the remainder of the army be trained and deployed to handle national emergencies. Renewing the Jamaica Constabulary Force should go hand in hand with reinforcing The Police Public Complaint Authority with adequate resources, for effective supervision. The new police phase should bear accountability, transparency and involved public hearings. Consideration of civilian oversight would be crucial in the restructuring of the Jamaica police force. Strengthening the justice system and equipping it with resources plays a role in achieving the recommended reforms. At a time when providing resources for all fields of the justice system is challenging, then pilot projects could begin, for citizens to witness the success of the justice system and begin to have trust and confidence in it (Ministry of National Security 2007).


Policing culture is unique worldwide. In Jamaica, we have the JCF. However, there can be no effective reforms without a name change. Consequently, the JCF must change its name to Jamaica Police Service. Over the years, JCF has cultivated its name alongside its culture; thus, the police culture of Jamaica is within its name and roots. There are fears that a name change to Service implies surrendering power and force of the JCF. This is technical because the police culture of Jamaica does not accommodate “surrendering”. We must note that we cannot impose, implement, or legislate a culture change on JCF.

Importance of Names and Meaning of Names

We must cultivate a strong culture of understanding names and their meanings if we want to understand a culture. Names carry more than imagined. Names have direct connections with history (see JCF history) through transitions, conflicts, characters, and places depending on origins and identities.

Historically, names and their meanings were significant during the reign of King Arthur and his soldiers. Such names came with great honor. Knights had to possess chivalry so as to earn fame and reputation in the kingdom and history as the next generation learned of such knights through their great names. However, a soldier who lost in a battle to another soldier had to surrender his name, and the victor added such names to his list of conquests; thus, earning the further reputation of strength. In this context, names of victors carried honor and admired strength. In case, a soldier lost a battle to a powerful soldier, then there was no disgrace. However, if Unknown Soldier defeated a famous one, then the fallen hero would suffer disgrace. In the Bible (Old Testament), names had divine significance. This was the case of Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) referred to as father and mother of the nation. There was also the case of Peter (Simon) whose name changed signifying personal recreation for the work of the Lord. Thus, religious names bear relevance to works of the Bible community and relate to biblical events.

Other names may have legal implications and act as a source lineage. In a family setting, this takes the form of a surname. Thus, we must understand the importance of names and their attachment to bearers and cultures. This also applies to JCF and the proposed name change. Thus, culture change must be systematic, and the force must not view culture and name changes as forms of defeat, disgrace, or surrender, but as steps for success.

Culture Change

We have to recognize that changing a cultivated culture of an organization is a difficult reform process. The JCF has perfected its name and culture over the years with various stakeholders. This looks like rolling the rock uphill.

Culture develops in an organization as a result of many factors. In the case of JCF, we know that the current culture does not match public expectations from the force or the government endeavors. Culture results from the management practices and techniques (Schein 1992). [8] Over the years, recruits of JCF have reinforced and perfected the current culture of JCF.

The police force has cultivated its name and culture over time. As a result, they are comfortable in their current state. However, the idea of a culture and name change implies an occurrence of a significant phenomenon. This occurrence must have serious repercussions. For instance, extrajudicial killings, corruption, public distrust, poor recruiting and training, and increasing violent crimes among others have attracted both local and international attention to the JCF.

Realizations of the importance of culture and the name of JCF and transforming them are equally challenging. The challenge is approaching culture and name change so that the force can realize meaningful reform processes. JCF must make its units realize the need for culture and name change. It must be a process of supporting progress, image, service delivery, and success of the force. Such changes can ensure culture and name changes take place. However, a name change is not an instant-coffee solution to JCF problems. There must be a culture change too. Both culture and name changes require resources, communication, and understanding.

The JCF can take three main approaches, and change its current culture and name. First, the JCF must understand and accept its current status and culture. Second, the force must decide its destiny, identify a strategic mission, and identify the best possible culture that can support its reform agenda. This may imply identifying a vision for the future Jamaica Police Service, and how changes in culture and name shall support the reform agenda. Third, members of the JCF must decide to transform their habits so as to establish the desired culture. This is the main challenge in transforming a culture of an organization.

The JCF must plan its desired reform processes before any attempt at changing the name and culture of the force. It is only a clear picture of the current situation that can steer future reform processes. JCF must develop mission, vision, and, value statements for its new name and culture. This accounts for the current state of affairs and provides a focused approach to the desired culture and need of the force. These statements must be value-based and offer a strategic account of the desired changes in the force. The statements must reflect the important values and their compatibility with the organization’s culture.

The JCF must identify what it needs to do in order to realize the culture and name change. First, the force cannot embark on this process without knowledge of the current situation and areas that need a culture change. Thus, it must identify components of culture that will support its reform processes. At the same time, the JCF must also identify factors that may challenge changes to the desired culture. It must know the desired culture and its possible outcomes. Consequently, it must have a list of priorities that will deliver organizational culture transformation.

It is impossible to disband an organization like JCF and create a new outfit. Thus, the only option is to reform it and its culture. JCF officers must unlearn old habits so as to learn new ones. This process requires resources, support from executives, and constant training.

Support from senior officials is necessary in order to realize culture change in an organization. This support must go beyond oral assurance and include action. At the same time, seniors must also change their habits by a constant provision of support to a culture change in the organization.

Culture and behavior changes go together. Thus, the team must understand what new initiatives demand of them and learn new behaviors in order to support the process. Training is a useful tool in enhancing behavior and culture changes in an organization. Training must communicate and teach desired changes.

The force must also create value systems that promote culture change. This requires job commitment and effective service delivery. The force must use effective communication approaches as a means of keeping all its units informed about change processes and the desired culture. Culture change also demands a change in the structure of an organization (units). This may involve disbanding or merging some units that oppose each other, competing for resources and units that may be irrelevant in the new outfit. The force must also review the work system, rewards, and recognition so as to support culture change processes.

Changing an established culture and name of an institution like JCF requires adequate resources, support, plan, and prioritization of resources that have support from excellent execution. Jamaica is not alone in this quagmire. A number of British colonies have embarked on reforming their police forces to police services. This is the case in most African nations such as Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya among others. In Kenya, a local human rights movement, Mars Group Kenya, demanded that the force needed an immediate culture and attitude change from “force to service, serving the rich to all citizens, centralized command/isolation to community consultation, secrecy to openness, democratic accountability, reactive to proactive and responsive, law enforcement driven to crime prevention, unsympathetic to victim-focused, connection with other arms of the criminal justice system, and form of human rights and unethical behavior to the protection of human rights and ethical policing practices” (Mars Group Kenya 2012). [9]


We must cultivate a culture through education, modeling, enlightening, empowering, and discipleship for positive gains. Most studies have indicated that education, modeling or mentoring and enlightening programs are significant to culture learning. Such programs promote best practices that have positive effects on individuals and the entire culture of an organization.

A basic step of encouraging a culture through education in an organization is to create key responsible people for leading units. These people must provide support to their units and discuss issues that can transform the culture of an organization.

Leadership is necessary for developing culture through learning, modeling, and enlightening. Leaders must ensure that an organization has the capacity to learn and nurture a new culture. The fundamental step is to understand the value, mission, and vision of an organization. This is crucial in the planning stages. Leaders acting as facilitators must help officers identify behavior patterns that can enhance the cultivation of a positive culture in an organization, and link such behaviors with values, mission, and vision.

A modeling approach to learning culture provides established best practices that can change people within the organization. The JCF can develop its modeling programs from its experienced officers who can offer advice, coaching, and information on matters related to work performances. Modeling will enlighten officers about the new culture. Such programs offer guidance and recommendations on how an organization can improve its practices. Improvement of processes includes the participation of juniors, supervision, and administration in organizational programs. Juniors also have chances of assessing programs and reviewing their working relationship with their models.

Modeling may also take an approach of a group where members of an organization collaborate without building close interaction with leaders. This mainly focuses on the development of professional skills among junior officers. This strategy works through providing support for junior officers in professional areas and empowering them to develop their chosen units through using skills they found important for success and culture change. The modeling approach provides chances for open discussions, education through individual presentations from experts and peers, and individual modeling programs. Such an approach enables officers to receive diverse views and opinions from presenters.

Participants’ interactions provide opportunities for officers to develop networks that enable them to learn and share experiences from different sources. Modeling activities act as essential sources of trust, building relationships, and support that a large organization like JCF requires. Leaders facilitate such programs through education and sharing of their experiences as they offer guidance to their junior officers. In addition, facilitators encourage officers to enquire about opportunities that may enable them to develop their professional skills for jobs, work-related concerns, and learn management and leadership techniques. An organization must take the approach of developing leadership and management skills among its officers when providing modeling.

Organizational culture should support empowerment. However, managers have the responsibility of ensuring empowerment. Empowerment threatens managers’ power and abilities to control their units. Thus, empowerment requires complete changes in culture from management teams to juniors. Cultures that support empowerment encourage managers to be “catalysts, facilitators, coaches, enablers, and developers of others rather than merely decision-making authorities” (Chris and Donald, 1996). [10]

The JCF management must empower its officers to conduct their jobs as the new culture requires. This requires such officers to make and participate in the making of strategic decisions. This power involves knowledge more than the position of authority. The JCF must empower its officers because the culture of violent crimes is changing, citizens are demanding changes, the environment of operation is uncertain, responsibilities are becoming numerous, a need for motivation and close supervision is nearly impossible. The JCF should not empower its officers when seniors are not ready to let go of old habits when there is no adequate training in the force, officers are too dependent on seniors, costly initiatives, in cases of close supervision, routine operation, and when the existing culture does not support empowerment.

The culture of empowerment involves transferring power to employees. The basic step is to identify already existing power among officers and motivate them for productivity. In cases where interference exists, the officer shall not perform their jobs well because managers still have power over their decisions.

Developing discipleship requires different approaches and resources depending on the size of an organization. However, this is a technical approach for enhancing a culture of an organization. Thus, the JCF requires a different approach from previous attempts of creating reform processes. The force must reflect ideas and borrow from other systems already implementing ideas of reforms and learn from such systems. The force must recognize that it cannot put new wine in old wineskins. This implies that it cannot effectively apply new ideas without letting the old habits go out of the system. Thus, developing a culture of discipleship where everyone wins requires new approaches, new ideas, borrowing, and learning from one another.


[1] Ministry of National Security, A New Era of Policing in Jamaica: Transforming the JCF The report of the JCF Strategic Review Panel (Kingston: Government of Jamaica, 2007).

[2] Michael Fullan, Leading in a culture of change (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001).

[3] Jamaica Observer, “Police force image to be transformed,” 2012. Web.

[4] Amnesty International, Jamaica: ‘Let them kill each other’: Public security in Jamaica’s inner cities. Annual Report 2008.

[5] Peter Jones, “The Jamaica Constabulary Force: Transformation To Meet The Challenges Of The 21st Century,” EconWPA: Development and Comp Systems 11 (2004): 63.

[6] USAID, Jamaica Constabulary Force: Community Safety and Security Branch, Building Safer Communities Through Partnership (New York: USAID, 2008).

[7] Anthony Harriott, Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabularies (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2000).

[8] Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2nd ed (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1992).

[9] Mars Group Kenya “Mars Group Kenya Blog,” 2012. Web.

[10] Argyris Chris and Donald Schon, Organizational Learning II (Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1996).


Amnesty International. Jamaica: ‘Let them kill each other’: Public security in Jamaica’s inner cities. Annual Report 2008.

Chris, Argyris, and Donald Schon. Organizational Learning II. Reading, Mass: Addison- Wesley, 1996.

Fullan, Michael. Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Harriott, Anthony. Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problems of Reforming Ex- Colonial Constabularies. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press , 2000.

Jamaica Observer. “Police force image to be transformed.” 2012. Web.

Jones, Peter. “The Jamaica Constabulary Force: Transformation To Meet The Challenges Of The 21st Century.” EconWPA: Development and Comp Systems 11 (2004): 1-63.

Mars Group Kenya. “Mars Group Kenya Blog.” 2012. Web.

Ministry of National Security. A New Era of Policing in Jamaica: Transforming the JCF. The report of the JCF Strategic Review Panel, Kingston: Government of Jamaica, 2007.

Schein, Edgar. Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1992.

USAID. Jamaica Constabulary Force: Community Safety and Security Branch. Building Safer Communities Through Partnership, New York: USAID, 2008.