“10 out of 10”

For many occupations, there are tangible “measurables” and “deliverables” by which one’s performance can be judged. A salesperson, for example, or a professional athlete. Or even a journalist- you must achieve a daily word count, for example. Other professions, such as an artist or a psychologist, are more subjective when trying to gauge success. I give these examples to make the point that some professions are not easily measured when trying to determine success.

You might think, though, that being the person in charge of security and safety for a nation, a police chief, would have some pretty stringent targets and benchmarks to meet to judge success. Is the murder rate down? Have property crimes fallen? Have domestic violence rates declined? If yes, you might think the top cop is on the right track. If no, well, there is still work to be done.

Not the case with police commissioner Dr. Carl Williams, who gave himself a score of 10 out of 10 when asked at a press conference to rate his performance. He has been on the job for 10 months. This past weekend, more than 600 people have been murdered in Jamaica so far in 2015. This is a roughly 20 per cent increase over the same period last year. The increase has been attributed to a spike in crime in the parish of St. James, where the lottery scams are concentrated.

We don’t know the question he was asked to respond this way, but Dr. Williams explained his self-assessment this way:

“The truth is that there is a whole lot of things that are happening that you are not going to see the results right away,” he asserted.

He cited a confidential exchange program through which people can turn in weapons, as well as targeted effort to fight the guns-for-drugs trade between Haiti and Jamaica. According to statistics, 80 per cent of the murders were committed with guns, with half of those crimes being gang-related.

So by the logic and assumption that because the programs and policies are put in place to tackle specific criminal activity, we should see a drastic reduction in crime soon? As always, the media did not press Dr. Williams as they should have, or the editor did not give the reporter enough space to flesh out the story, or Dr. Williams is an expert in evading questions. Although he has clearly had no media training, or at least did not pay attention, because someone should have advised him not to respond to such a question, or at least display some humility.

In any case, we are left, as usual, with a sensational headline, more questions than answers, no substance, and a sense that the authorities are living in a parallel universe. Dr. Williams is clearly not clueless, however, because he “lamented” that too many elderly people, women and children are becoming part of the statistics. How does he then rationalize his perfect self-assessment with the acknowledgment that too many innocent people are dying? We would love to know, but the story does not shed any additional light.

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