Police Minister Wants 4k Cops! - 11/18/20 12:06 PM
There are 17 new ministers, but the two who go immediately to the front of the class are the Ministers of Health and Home Affairs - since COVID and crime are the most pressing national issues of the moment.
Today, police minister Kareem Musa - who, as an attorney, is no stranger to the criminal justice system - did a tour of the two largest police stations in the Eastern Division - led by Commissioner Chester Williams.
In a briefing with the press right after, he touched on all the well worn touchstones of the law enforcement status quo playbook: "more boots on the ground" but with a softer touch in the community; putting a check on use of lethal force - except where justified, and putting an end to cop corruption, where it can be stopped - which is not everywhere.
And he was matched by the chameleon Compol who - in his recent career - has gone from the community policing carrot, to the state of emergency stick, and today he was back with the carrot.
Their joint briefing was an interesting study in how the more things change - the more they seem to remain the same. Minister Musa led off:
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth
"And so I am very grateful that he has offered me and extended the invitation on my first day on the job to do a tour of two precincts so far. We've done Queen Street and here we are at Raccoon Street Police station. It has been a very eye opening experience this morning. I got an opportunity to have a very open frank and candid discussion with the high ranking members of the police department and itr was definitely uplifting if I can say so for myself, because we can see where there is a boost in moral already having somebody new as their minister. I am not in any way throwing shade on the past minister, I am sure he did an great job as well, but certainly the outlook is a positive one. We are getting a fresh opportunity, a fresh start, a new beginning. Crime in our country is extremely serious as is the Covid pandemic, as is the economic crisis that we are facing and so 2020 has certainly hurled a lot of curve balls our way but we are ready and we are prepared. Part of our manifesto is to increase the rank of the police department. It might not be overnight but certainly in the coming years we want to take it to 3,000 and an initial step and thereafter to 4,000. So definitely we do need more boots on the ground, because we are understaff as is. In addition to that, I believe that there has been and I think the Compol agrees with me in this that we need to emphasize more the importance of community oriented policing. I believe that the police department has taken a bad rap over the years. You do have some bad apples in the bunch that may use excessive force at times, at times though we have to accept as a society that they have been warranted in their use of force because they themselves may have come under attack, so we have to understand that it's not every instance where you see that force is used that it was excessive and so we need to categorized that and classified that."
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I am a very huge proponent of community policing. I do believe that when it is properly applied it can yield great success in terms of crime fighting efforts and so the senior command of the department got that message this morning and within the next 2 weeks we should be launching our community orienting policing manual which will outline to the commanders all that which we expect of them in terms of community policing."