The story of former Detective Isiah Laing, in Monday’s Jamaica Observer, is reminiscent of the stories many other front line officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, now referred to as (name brand cops) will relate, and have already related.
I have written extensively regarding the same issues Isaiah Laing laments. I’ve done so in these blogs, in other mediums and in a book I wrote detailing my one decade in the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Laing, rightly assess that crime in Jamaica is big business, it is fed by people at the very top, unscrupulous people,who head critical areas of our Government and civil society who should have no clearance, even to enter through the doors of any Government facility.
Understandably, Laing still chafes, even as he airs his grouse with Former Army transplant, Trevor Macmillan, for retiring him and others from the department. Laing misses the deeper issue, however,of what and who created the dysfunction which allowed an interloper and a carpetbagger to be placed in that critical a law enforcement position.
The fact of the matter is that Jamaica must have strong cops who are unafraid to tackle criminals where they eat, sleep, and my favorite, where they have sex.
Jamaicans have a unique way in the way they see law enforcement officers, many know-nothings argue that Jamaica’s police officers must be like first world police forces. That strategy is all well and good, but the reality is we are not a first world country. Jamaican’s go out of their way to demand that their officers are tough and decisive.
If officers are not tough they are deemed to be weak and incompetent, they get no respect, no information.
As a young Detective stationed at the (CIB) Constant Spring, I would arrive at work and there would be sometimes a dozen people waiting to see me even though there were over 20 detectives stationed there.
As a young officer on the Rangers Squad, a man walked up to me and said “officer I saw you in action earlier today, I’m going to tell you where to find an M16 Rifle“I was in civilian clothes heading home.
Cornwall (bigga) Ford
He proceeded to give me the exact address, told me there is a dread,(Rastafarian) living there, he said he knows nothing about the gun treat him well.
Next day that information was dead-on correct, as I led a team of my colleagues to the very address he gave me in Greenwich Farm, where I recovered the retractable stock Rifle, exactly in the ceiling as he had said it would be.
The Rastafarian was there washing his clothes, as I promised the gentleman, I treated him kindly and respectfully.
When the indomitable Cornwall (Bigga) Ford was transferred from Constant Spring to Flying Squad I was one of 4 officers sent to try to fill that gap. The fact that they thought to send 4 officers to try to the fill the gap of one departed name brand cop, speaks volumes as to the effect of said name brand cops.
It was exhilarating to me to be among those chosen to fill those large shoes. I swore to myself that I would make sure with every fiber of my being that I earned that spot on the CIB team. The very first day on foot Patrol at the corner of Barbican Road and Grant’s Pen, in a building owned by a Rastafarian called Coptic, I accosted a man and took from his waistband a loaded Smith and Wesson Revolver.
I later learned at the CIB office that man was the infamous (Chicken Toe). I was told that the Constant Spring Police were looking for Chicken Toe for a long time, Chicken Toe was sitting in a Tailor Shop situated in the Coptic Building, unconcerned.
Chicken Toe received 2 years in prison for the illegal weapon, he was not prosecuted for any other offense, despite the age-old story of “we want him for questioning” .
After being released from prison Chicken Toe came to see me, he thanked me for not shooting him during the arrest. For the duration of the time I stayed at Constant Spring, Chicken Toe was neutralized as a potential problem for law enforcement.
Many Judges used me as an example of what they thought good officers should be. Basil Reid lashed out at officers who criticized him for turning criminals loose,” do your investigations like Detective Beckles and you won’t have anything to complain about” Many others like Judge McIntosh and his wife were flowery with praise for my work. The point is where are we now? All of us are now out of the force.
I chose to leave, even after successfully sitting the accelerated examination.I did not see the Constabulary as a viable career path for me. One can be tough and smart at the same time, those two defining characteristics are not mutually exclusive.
I took numerous guns off the streets, Guys like Dadrick Henry and myself were relentless, we drove the fear of God into criminals, there were no Dons within my sphere of influence, not one until I departed the Police Force in 1991.
My attack on crime did not go unnoticed however, there were many run-ins with politicians, I arrived at work one morning and learned that there was a fatal shooting involving officers at Constant Spring overnight.
I was transferred back to the Mobile Reserve even though I knew nothing about that shooting and was not even at work that night.
Carl Samuda the Member of Parliament and Deputy Commissioner Ebanks cooked up that transfer. I had previously forced Samuda to observe the rules regarding where he hung out within the confines of a polling station. Samuda though he was exempt from the laws, he wasn’t in my book.
What Samuda and Ebanks did not bargain for was the unintended consequences, of the reaction of the people I served, once they learned that I was summarily shipped out they blocked the streets and demand that their police officer is returned, all hell broke loose. Former Assistant Commissioner of Police Cleve Leon (jaggamore) was then the head of the Mobile Reserve, he called me into his office and asked me ” young man what is it between you and those people demonstrating out there”? I told him with three words, “mutual respect sir”.
Cleve Leon told me, ‘the Commissioner wants you to pick up your stuff and go back to your people” I told ACP Leon, “Sir I have nothing to pick up’, I was gone. The Commissioner of Police then was Herman Rickets.
People in Jamaica demand strong police officers, they test officers themselves, if the police are neutered or shackled they look to others to fill the void.
They have found others to fill the void. They found the Dons.
Dons are not bound by rules, they kill at will, no one dare question them, the politicians are quite happy with them.
I too felt that I would return if asked to give my service to restore sanity to the country, Doctorates, and Masters cannot end crime. On this Laing is correct. It does not require rocket scientists to eradicate crime. Jamaica’s Scientists are hardly any good what are we to do populate the scientific community with cops?
Jamaica is on a downward slide toward anarchy, sorry Isiah, enjoy your life they do not deserve you.
I won’t say much more, I ask you all to read it in my book.