A shortage of detectives in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been leading many investigators, on a daily basis, to pick specific cases to give priority attention.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green, who made the admission yesterday, said this was a “tough” call for investigators that could significantly affect the entire law-enforcement process.
In addition, Green, who is in charge of the JCF’s homicide investigation strategy, said the shortage of detectives create “grey areas where some things will get done, but not to a suitable standard”.
Said Green: “Because you can’t do everything, you will do some and ignore others. Even the best detective has to decide on a daily basis what they are going to prioritise and what they are not going to do and that’s a tough decision for law enforcement,” he said.
“That then impacts on many things. It impacts on other cases before the court, it impacts on other investigations and then there are the demands that come in on a daily basis,” he added.
Under JCF policy, the full cadre of detectives should be 15 per cent of its members.
However, statistics provided by Green show that there were 886 detectives in the force up to March this year, just 10 per cent of the 8,814 members at the time.
While he could not provide more up-to-date figures, Green said: “We are not much better than that now … we are still way short of the number of detectives we should have.”
The fall-off in major crimes, which started in June last year and continued this year, has provided some measure of relief for police investigators who have been grappling with an increase in almost every category of serious crimes in recent years.
In an attempt to ease the shortage of detectives, the JCF devised a plan to train at least 200 investigators each year, starting in 2008.
However, except for last year when 213 detectives were trained, Green said the JCF has failed to meet its target.
The statistics provided by Green show that no detectives were trained in the first year of the plan, while 110 were trained in 2009. Since the start of the year, the JCF has trained 102 detectives.
“We are training them to the required standards, but we have not been able to train them in sufficient numbers,” he emphasised.
The assistant commissioner blamed the less-than-expected numbers on poor facilities and the volume of activities at the Police Training Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.
“There is a lot of demand for the limited resources (at the academy),” he explained.