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.

Isiah Laing

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.