If Jamaica is ever to pull back from the brink of anarchy, the average man on the street who has no voice, no power, must see that the laws of the country applies to all Jamaicans and not just the powerless.
The idea of governance is a sacred covenant between the governed and those who govern.
The power in the hands of those who governed is bestowed upon them by those who submit to the concept of being governed
For police officers and other officers who are vested with power to detain and or infringe on the rights of individual citizens, so too are their power of authority derived from the citizens.
It is important than it is recognized, that wherein there is the appearance, (justified or not), that certain segments of the society is exempt from enforcement of the nation’s laws, there tend to be uprisings and pushback which may take various forms depending on the locality.
Those forms of protests can take several forms, ranging from the wanton breaking of laws, as a means of getting back at the system they view as corrupt or unjust, to open rebellion resulting in the overthrow of governments.
It is for those reasons that it is important that as a society we continue to strive for a country wherever we are domiciled, in which all are equal under the law.
Regardless of the defining socio-economic characteristics that are used to separate us, it is important that the laws apply evenly & justly in the eyes of all citizens.
In the 2016 American Presidential elections a multiplicity of the nation’s intelligence agencies reported that the Russian counter-measure campaign was designed to widen the cracks of division within the American society, particularly along racial lines.
Those who follow the news and current events would know just how successful those measures turned out to be.
Today, more than three years after those elections and the installation of a new president, America remains extremely polarized and at war with itself.
If those disparities did not exist they could not have been exploited in a way that is counter to the interest of the United States.
Even as the struggle continues to level the playing field in the United States, so too must the fight continue to end the intransigent residual effects of colonialism and the resultant caste-system that has been left behind in Jamaica by the Island’s colonizers.
In order to do so, the remaining vestiges of that caste system must be broken down. We can begin that process by ensuring that all of our people have equal protection under the law.
When someone breaks the law he or she cannot be shielded from the consequences of their actions based on who they are, or their station in the society.
In Israel, the Prime Minister was recently indicted on corruption charges, in other developing countries like Pakistan, we have seen former President Musharraf indicted and convicted in absentia.
All across the Globe as countries struggle to emerge from the darkness of poverty into the light of freedom and democracy, powerful leaders have been brought down and made accountable for their criminal actions.
Jamaican can be no exception in this regard.
It is for those reasons that I will forever stand behind the rule of law and those who correctly enforce the nation’s laws without fear or favor, malice or ill-will.
Regardless of the outcome of the Kari Douglas arrest, I am heartened to see young police officers risking all by standing true to their oaths and making arrests, even at the peril of their careers.
As a past member of the JCF, I was forced to stand up to politicians, on several occasions, many of them believed then, as they do today, that they are above the laws, or that the laws do not apply to them. That same level of contempt for the laws, and by extension, those who enforce them, is very self-evident among the wealthy elites as well.
I was transferred because I did exactly what the law authorized me to do in one incident. A politician still serving in the present administration and a corrupt senior police officer, colluded to ship me away from the division. (Speaking of the same Saint Andrew North)
That did not go down as they planned, the people who knew my service took to the streets, with blockade and fire.
The Commissioner of Police, Herman Ricketts, was forced to send me back. That day I arrived to a hero’s welcome from the people I served, among them, individuals I had previously arrested.
That day will forever live in my mind. Policing is about being fair, just, firm, respectful, honest and impartial.
It was those attributes that inspired offenders I had investigated and arrested and who were successfully prosecuted and did time to seek me out after they did their time to thank me for doing my job fairly.
One man came back and thanked me for not shooting him when I took a loaded gun from his waistband.
He profusely thanked me for not shooting him after he did his two years in prison.
It never crossed my mind that shooting him was an option when I took that loaded weapon from him.
The Attorney General of Jamaica today, poignantly and meticulously cleared up some broad ambiguities within the public space on the issue of people who are exempt under the Disaster Risk Management Act.
Those misconceptions include, but are not confined to the idea, that because one is exempt by virtue of their job description they cannot be found to be in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act.
Mrs. Malahoo Forte explained, that even if one is exempt, he or she cannot abuse that exemption by running personal errands or to stop at a rum bar for drinks, and then claim exemption.
The exemption must be related exactly to that person’s professional function which necessitated the exemption in the first place.
Also, when asked to provide proof of exemption, the exempt party has a duty to do so. A driver’s license is not proof of exemption.
Additionally, a police officer doing his duty has no burden to know whether a person is a parish councilor, member of parliament, or a doctor.
When the police seek out and arrest a young man who violated the Disaster Risk Management Act, and when that young man apologized publicly, even as he still awaits his day in court, there should be zero tolerance for any parish councilor or prime minister who breaches the act and believes that cursing out and abusing the police officers is acceptable.
Corruption is an enemy of growth, corruption comes in many forms.
Regardless of who you are, under these circumstances that we have never encountered before, when stopped by the police tell them who you are and that you are exempt.
As I said before, that exemption would be applicable based on whether the person was acting in an official capacity or not.
If the officer is determined to arrest you, submit to the arrest and have your day in court.
I find it difficult to believe that they would decide to arrest if they were not abused verbally.
The only thing I fault the police officers with, in Kari Douglas incident is that they allowed her to drive to the Constant Spring police station to be charged.
They were more than lenient.
She should have been handcuffed and taken to the police station, exactly like that young man was before her.
We cannot have two different standards for the same tiny country.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, businessman, researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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