Cablegate: Jamaica's New Commissioner of Police, Rear Admiral

Published: Thu 20 Dec 2007 08:55 PM
DE RUEHKG #1803/01 3542055
R 202055Z DEC 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: (SBU) In just his first week in office
Commissioner Hardley Lewin, a former Rear Admiral in the
Jamaica Defence Force, has set a completely different tone
for the office. Cognizant of record murder rates and
escalating violent crime, he deliberately eschewed a formal
change of command ceremony in favor of quietly reporting for
work on January 17, stating that "this country doesn't need
one more ceremony, it needs me to go to work." He has
already met with his senior staff and discussed his plans for
changing the organization, and the need for them to prepare
for a much more devolved management style. He has also sent
several members on "long term leave" in anticipation of
transfer. In his first meeting with his staff Lewin
cautioned them that a lack of discipline, corruption, and
poor performance will not be tolerated. Lewin is also
actively participating in the Ministry of National Security's
ongoing Strategic Review of the JCF, and wants to use the
Review as a catalyst to push change throughout the
organization. End Summary
Tackling the Crime Monster
2. (C) One of Lewin's top priorities is to grapple with a
spiraling murder rate, and an increase in other violent
crimes, including some high-profile killings of JCF officers.
When asked about this in a meeting with the NAS Director on
December 19, Lewin outlined a multi-faceted long-term
strategy to tackle Jamaica's crime problem. Stating that it
is not just about "knocking heads" Lewin wants to change the
"face" of policing in Jamaica. The Jamaica Constabulary
Force, in his opinion, continues to hold on to the
para-military structure and mentality present from its
inception. In his view, when Jamaicans think about police,
they think "corrupt criminals" and it is imperative that the
Force take on board modern policing techniques that will
begin to repair its relationship with the people it is
supposed to serve and protect. Lewin understands that the
JCF alone can not tackle crime, the Force must win the trust
of the population to really be successful. In a press
conference scheduled for December 20, Lewin intends to also
call upon Jamaica's politicians and Civil Society to play a
more active role in changing the current climate of violence
and criminality. Not only does he hold the Force responsible
for what has happened over the last 30 years, but he also
believes that Jamaica's politicians and civil society have
fostered if not encouraged criminal gangs and now, "the
monster has outgrown the master."
Community Policing
3. (SBU) Lewin used the term "community policing," in his
discussion about Force change. However, in Lewin's view the
current Community Policing Initiative has not produced the
desired results because the Force has simply paid lip service
to its tenants. In his opinion, it is not enough to have a
Community Liaison Officer who will hand out sweets to kids,
and sit in the police stations to hear complaints from
citizens. Lewin understands that this will be a major "brain
shift" for the vast majority of the Force, but he wants to
institute a more professional, community-focused approach to
policing from the top down and bottom up by revamping the
Academy curriculum and insisting that senior and mid-level
managers do more that just talk about community-based
4. (C) In one of his first decisions as Commissioner, on
January 17, Lewin approved and then circulated to all his
senior staff the concept paper on Anti-Corruption prepared by
the new Anti-Corruption Division Chief, Assistant
Commissioner, Justin Felice. (Note: Felice, a British
National, is one of five internationally recruited officers
currently serving the JCF) As the former Chief of Staff of
the Jamaica Defence Force, in his capacity as advisor to the
Ministry of National Security, Lewin was involved in the
conception of the Division from the beginning, and is an
enthusiastic supporter of Felice. Lewin asked that the U.S.
continue to work with Jamaica's other international partners
to support the Division. (Details of the Division's plan to
be discussed in Septel)
Poor Performance
5. (C) There is often a fine and very blurry line between
corruption and poor performance. Lewin does not plan to
tolerate either. Sending a strong signal that it will not be
"business as usual" in the JCF, in just his first week, Lewin
has already sent several senior officers, including Assistant
Commissioner of Police, XXX, the current Head of
the XXX on "long-term" leave
pending a transfer to another Division. In addition to
XXX, whom Lewin discussed directly with NAS Director as a
"problem," Lewin intends to move several other officers, who
in his view simply have failed to perform. The previous
Commissioner, according to Lewin, was much too involved in
the day-to-day decision making of Force Operations, which
created paralysis. Lewin's vision is to set the rules and
policies and enforce performance but push out authority to
Division Commanders. He agreed that this too will be a major
"brain shift" for most officers, who have never been expected
to think for themselves. He opined that "some will make it,
some won't, the ones who don't will have to go."
Recruitment Retention Discipline
6. (C) Lewin agreed with the NAS Director that the Force's
current recruitment, retention, and discipline rules and
regulations will have to undergo revision. However, he does
not subscribe to his predecessor's view that the Commissioner
of Police is currently powerless to deal with problem
employees, but he is keenly aware that Jamaican courts are
not a friendly forum for employment disputes. Lewin
subscribes to the notion that you work quietly from within to
remove poor performers or officers involved in questionable
practices. If that fails, he would then turn the matter over
to the Police Services Commission (PSC) for an administrative
hearing. He shared with the NAS Director that it was his
impression before taking the position that it was the PSC
that was failing to act to remove poor performers. Once in
the job, Lewin discovered that the PSC had been begging his
predecessor for years to send it the Force's best cases so
that it could remove under-performing members.
Ministry of National Security's Strategic Review
7. (C) Lewin shared with the NAS Director that he met this
week with the panel of experts for the Ministry of
National Security's Strategic Review Committee. Lewin,
unlike his predecessor, wants to actively participate in the
review process and he intends to take the Committee's
preliminary recommendations/questions/concerns back to his
senior staff to get their input into the final report. Lewin
wisely understands that unless the Force views this Review in
a positive light and believes that the Review's
recommendations have had Force input, he won't be able to use
it as the catalyst for fundamental organizational change. He
commented that it was the lack of Force-wide buy in to the
PERF Report, for example, is why the NAS-funded Law
Enforcement Development Advisor failed to achieve major
change in the JCF.
A Target on his Back
8. (C) Lewin has thus far made light of the threats against
him, but his wife has shared her concerns about both the
external and internal forces that they both have been warned
about. Prior to his taking office, members of Lewin's
Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) body-guard detail approached him
to offer their services to guard Lewin and his family. Lewin
has also been warned by current and former police officers
and other JDF officer to avoid eating or drinking anything
prepared or provided by his staff at JCF HQ. Lewin's wife
firmly believes that she and XXX are
targets and she is pressing Lewin to ensure that his contract
(which is still under negotiation) includes adequate
provision for both their personal security and the physical
security of their home.
A Question of Leadership
8. (C) Where Lewin's predecessor was guarded and often seemed
overwhelmed by the demands of the position, Lewin, despite a
burgeoning murder rate, rampant corruption, a lack of
critical resources and credible threats against him and his
family, appears confident and comfortable in command of the
JCF. Lewin firmly believes that it is a question of
leadership, the Force's past leaders have failed it and
failed Jamaica. He intends to do better.
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