Former top-rated cop, retired Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams, has given new Police Commissioner, George Quallo, a failing grade after just five months on the job.
While describing Quallo and his predecessor, Dr Carl Williams, as ‘good boys’ who are upright men with good ethics, Adams, in an interview on Nationwide Radio on Tuesday, said although he supported the appointments of both men, the results of their stewardships have proven them to be more suited for church duties than serious crime-fighting.
He said what the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) really needs from a commissioner is the strength of mind and disposition to buck the political directorate in support of the membership of the force and the country at large, which both men, like others in the top position before them, clearly lack.
In declaring as an example in the wide-ranging interview, that if he became the commissioner of police, he would have had to fire the four existing deputies, Adams said that was on the basis of the deputies having allowed the recent former commissioners to fail, hence they too would need to go with the top former figure.
Nine years after retirement, Adams said one of the biggest failings of the leadership of the JCF has been the unwillingness of its leaders to tell the membership about the realities that are being faced by the force in terms of issues like resource constraints and political pressure and expectations.
He said in not levelling with the membership of the force, the situation leaves the rank and file in a perpetual state of unrealistic expectations and, thus, disappointments, while the governments of the day have taken little responsibility for the problems in the force over the years, which have been more as a result of policy decisions that are made at levels way above the force itself.
In responding to questions of the reported tardiness in promoting qualified members of the force to higher ranks over recent years, Adams questioned whether the funding for the remuneration of the officers who are up for promotion is indeed in place, as National Security Minister, Robert Montague, has stated.
George Quallo… Adams says he is more suited for church duties.
The flambouyant ex-police officer said in his time in the force, he knew of numerous instances when funding that was supposedly in place for the same purpose, ended up being not so, due to the wide-ranging allocation needs of the JCF, which often results in funding being diverted far from the originally intended allocation targets.
He also questioned the expectation that commissioners of police and the Police Services Commission should automatically promote personnel who have met the academic criteria for elevation, when the work ethics of some of the individuals are often not in keeping with the added responsibilities that will come with the promotions.
However, he said conversely, that there have been many instances when personal contacts with highly-placed officers in the force were all it took to get promotions. That, he said, included sexual contacts and associations like through the church, water holes and even lodges.
Interestingly, Adams said at one point during his time in the force, when he personally agonised over an extended period of almost 15 years without a promotion, he discovered that a line of five consecutive former police commissioners then, “had been members of the lodge” network. He said he had reasons to believe that the ‘lodge connections’ had major influence on who became commissioner down the line at the time, with consequential implications for the decision-making relative to the individual welfare of the members of the police force.
Adams said the question of sexual favours or the lack of it having a serious bearing on the granting of promotions within the force has long been a factor in the organisation. He said while it was less pronounced as a public issue then, the negative implications for many force members were no less impactful.
He said promotion in the force have long been heavily influenced by factors like “the church you attend, the bar you drink together, who carry the most news, who carry the best news, (and) who is most destructive to one another.”
A significant result of that scenario, he said, has been that “we have people who I call square pegs in round holes, and round pegs that have been put in square holes.”
Adams said the welfare of police personnel is of vital importance to the overall morale within the force, and cited a relatively simply but fundamental practice of allocating a box juice and a Styrofoam-packaged meal – sometimes ill-prepared – to officers, including those on the frontline, on all-day duties, as being just not good enough. He said police commissioners need to put down their feet in declaring that such inadequacies are really not in the best interests of the rank and file of the force, and need to be properly addressed.
On the makings of a good commissioner, he had much o say.
“I will tell you that when you are promoting people to the position of commissioner of police,… you must make sure that they have the strength of character to look into the Government’s eyes and tell them that ‘mi not doing this because it is wrong’; and look into the Police Services Commission’s eyes and tell them that ‘mi not doing this because you are wrong’,” declared Adams, the country’s most feared and revered cop.
Asked pointedly to assess the performance of Commissioner Quallo so far, Adams said: “I haven’t seen him in any action…, to be frank (although) is mi my good friend. He was in more action when he wasn’t commissioner than (he is) now.”
Adams said the realities of crime in the country at present require leaders in the force who are “strong, firm, dynamic, unwavering, straight-forward people with a strong sense of character to take the mission to the criminals, one way or the other.”
He said the world has change where security is concerned, and Jamaica needs to adapt to the changing times.