'Police were not prepared for AK-47s' - McDonald
Lauds response to crime wave in farewell speech
February 12, 2004
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He said the difficulties the police faced at the time of the notorious February 23, 2002 Camp Street jailbreak included the fact that they were not prepared. The police were hindered in their response by a shortage of vehicles and equipment. He recalled various acts of violence carried out against police ranks very close to the Brickdam Police Station, and several others around the city. More than 20 policemen were murdered by criminals over the period.
"I remember having to come to Brickdam to give you a morale booster," he said.
Despite these setbacks, McDonald said the police were able to pull together and fight the battle. The officers of the Operations Room were singled out for commendation for the part they played in controlling the spiralling crime wave. He also lauded the Impact Force along with other frontline ranks.
He said the result was that crime was significantly reduced in the city. He told ranks to continue providing quality service because their output was vital to the development of this country. He implored the divisional ranks to reduce crime, control traffic and keep the population at peace.
The retiring Commissioner told the gathering that he had fond memories of the Brickdam Police Station since it was where he "cut his teeth" in the early years of his career. He recalled that after training school he was posted to that location, where he eventually became a part of the Crime Prevention Squad attached to the Ministry of Finance.
Policing, McDonald said, was a demanding and complex job, which many people did not understand. Therefore, it was laudable that officers remained on the job in the face of concerns expressed by close relatives and threats to their lives and the lives of their families. In this light he reminded members of the force that their welfare was always a priority in the minds of administrators.
He advised younger members of the force to preserve confidentiality when conducting police business, so that they may be able to garner the assistance of the public. And he encouraged them to respect the rights of persons when providing service to the community.
"This should be uppermost in your minds."
He said as well that they should support the administration by conducting themselves like policemen and women and not get involved in illegal activities. To those awaiting elevation in the force he said, "Hold firm and wait, since the bus is coming but it can be a long one."
McDonald urged the media to be supportive of the police in the carrying out of their duties.
The wail of sirens and four outriders announced the arrival of McDonald for the mid-morning ceremony where he was welcomed amidst trumpets and fanfare. The Commis-sioner inspected the parade accompanied by Commander of 'A' Division, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Laurie George while the police band played in the background. Midway through the ceremony Lance Corporal Roxanne Sandy belted out two well- appreciated renditions, "To Sir with Love" and "Bridge over Troubled Water". Assistant Superintendent of Police Tessa Isaacs presented the retiring commanding officer with a gift, while Cadet Officer Simon gave the vote of thanks. George in his welcome and introductory remarks noted that McDonald had served the force well for 36 years; though during his term there were some changes that caused setbacks.
However, he said, the outgoing Acting Commissioner was instrumental in the acquisition of vehicles and equipment for the Force, training both locally and overseas and improved buildings.