A seven-point anti-crime plan — with heavy emphasis on intelligence, forensics, cybersecurity and anti-corruption, which will bring together the best minds to tackle Jamaica’s most debilitating problem — was on Thursday presented by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, along with members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) High Command, during a Gleaner Editors’ Forum.
Though the Government has been hounded for an effective strategy for fighting crime since taking office in 2016, Deputy Superintendent Dahlia Garrick, head of the police Corporate Communications Unit, said a budgetary increase predicated on the anti-crime strategies was included in this year’s estimates of expenditure.
The plan will see an overhaul of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), which specializes in security intelligence and collaborates with local and international law-enforcement agencies. The NIB also provides intelligence to the officer corps and operational units and was itself an overhaul of the JCF Special Branch.
Anderson, who has been in the post for over a year, outlined a careful plan of action, to be done in three-month phases, but all running concurrently.
The strategy includes mirror image recommendations of the Strategic Review done in 2008, which proposed, inter alia, a road map for tackling corruption, internal and external accountability, a more effective leadership and management arrangement, to include improvement to internal communication, and a significant upgrade to the physical structures used by the JCF. The welfare of the men and women who ‘serve and protect’ will also receive an added boost, which will now be handled by command central complementing the role of the Police Federation.
The proposed national security tactic is anchored on seven pillars.“They are crime reduction and control; improving public safety and citizen security; organizational restructuring and capacity building; enhancing staff welfare; enhancing professional standards; efficiency through technology; and communication and public engagement,” the commissioner told the team of editors and journalists at The Gleaner’s North Street, Kingston office.
This was just days after police statistics revealed that there was an increase in murders, which threatens gains made with the introduction of the state of emergency in three high-crime western parishes, and the continuation of zones of special operations in two troubled communities.
“Our aim is to make Jamaica safe. And at the top of that is our concern about the number of persons who die in Jamaica, which is something that we really need to get a handle on and deal with. For us as the police force, what we see as a statistic of murder is very real. Those are real people who have been killed. We see everyone who is murdered in situ. We go to every scene and we are unique in that regard. We are the only ones who do that,” he noted.
Anderson said any murder was disheartening, hence, a major thrust of the JCF was geared towards reducing that while tackling the wider, connected issues.
In March 2018, when he assumed the force’s top job, at the forefront of his mind was the 1,643 persons murdered the previous year, and that year’s already high figures.
His strategies then included focusing on policing the new school year amid a flurry of road lawlessness, which involved training several traffic cops.
Anderson also took aim at strengthening the investigative arm of the force — then under the directorship of Deputy Commissioner Selvin Hay — with a serious push towards dismantling gangs, which included investigations and prosecutions of members.
One such is the multiple-member Uchence Wilson Gang, which is currently before the courts and whose members are being prosecuted under the Anti-Gang Legislation.
This year saw him targeting the inspectorate of the constabulary, with the redevelopment of the JCF’s internal anti-corruption capability, which became the remit of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).“MOCA is obviously looking at big issues of corruption across government, and so to look at our own issues internally, it is critical that we have our own capabilities. DCP Hay is in the process of developing and building that capability,” the commissioner said.
Internal administrative processes and the welfare of the men and women under his command are now Anderson’s focus. Jamaica-Eye — the Government’s much-touted CCTV cameras crime reduction tool, using eyes instead of boots — is currently being optimized and improvements are underway for a working roll-out by September. Much of the hardware will be replaced, many of which are outdated.
“How we use forensics, cyber forensics, DNA, ballistics, fingerprint, and related forensics are critical. Last year, we took 5,457 crime-scene exhibits for DNA analysis; we also tested 9,275 individual samples. In terms of digital devices and data, through cyber forensics, we processed 3,395 devices, and this year we have done approximately 1,500,” Anderson stated. At least 1,037 ballistic samples from crime scenes were done last year, some of which have helped to solve cold cases. Arrests as a result of transnational investigations have also been made.DCP Hay and Assistant Commissioner Kevin Blake are currently working on establishing effective platforms for the public to communicate with the constabulary. The top brass is all in agreement with the JCF’s guiding principles. “The first is the rule of law, the second is respect for all, and third is that we are a force for good,” stated the top cop.
Let’s all take a step back and admit that insofar as crime is concerned this Jamaican Government, like the one before, has played its hand and lost.
Can we at least be honest with ourselves that declaring States of Emergencies and installing Zones Of Special Operations are only serving to disperse and distribute criminals to other areas, away from those designated zones?
So the Prime Minister has just returned to the Island from a CARICOM conference, he announced that a State Of Emergency has been declared in the Saint Andrew South Police Area. For those of you not familiar with the geography of the Kingston Metropolitan area, that is in the area called the Hunt’s Bay Police division.
At the same time, there are hot spots springing up all across the Island. Clarendon is out of control as gangsters run the place in that parish so to speak. Elsewhere in the corporate area, crime has gone up in most police divisions wiping out the reductions experienced in 2018.
Even in Manchester, a Parish not exactly know for uncontrollable crime, things have seemingly gotten out of hand. We made some inquiries as to what could have caused the crime spike in that parish?
We wanted to understand why Manchester which saw a 31% reduction in murders last year is experiencing a 100% increase in murders?
We learned that the Commanding officer for that Parish, hands-on Superintendent Wayne Cameron has been away from that command for the past six months and all hell seemed to have broken loose.
A little bird has informed us that the Superintendent may be back at the helm of that division so hopefully, things will stabilize in that parish sooner than later.
In Clarendon two members of the JDF have been gunned down in the space of 15 days the latter was killed this morning after a party in the Clarendon Park area of the parish.
Dead is Private Paul Lindsay otherwise called Gary who was shot roughly eight times by an assailant who reportedly emerged from nearby bushes and opened fire on Lindsay who had just concluded a round-robin party.
On June 22nd Private Garfield Williams was gunned down along cemetery road in Denbigh, in the same parish.
Whether there is a systemic campaign of terror against members of the JDF is still unclear, as two deaths do not establish a full pattern. At the same time, there has been a steady increase in violence in the parish, which has prompted some to call for the removal of that commanding officer Mrs. Cameron-Powell.
In fairness to Mrs. Cameron Powell and any other commander who would tackle that division the strategies needed to bring crime to a screeching halt will not be tolerated by this Prime Minister his cabal of criminal rights lobby or the country in general.
Just today I saw a post made by the Prime Minister, in it, he asked citizens to report incidents of crime to the authorities. He had the JDF tip line ahead of the nation’s police tip line.
To some people, this may be inconsequential, not to me. Since he came to office he has demonstrated that he doesn’t care too much about the police, and as we have seen he even made a former head of the JDF the police commissioner.
Again, this may not seem like much to the average non-skeptic, but, to me, he has virtually made the JDF his police department of choice.
Now here is the kicker, not only has he made the JDF the new police force, but the so-called awe and love that previously existed for the military because its members were not as exposed as the members of the JCF are, and they weren’t out there arresting people, is now gone and the guns are turning on them.
I warned that that would occur, given time and his penchant for pushing the JDF as a pseudo-police force.
The former government of the PNP did not have a clue how to end the crime scourge plaguing our country. The former Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, a man now locked in a struggle for the leadership of the party, once said that the country needed divine intervention to deal with crime.
As Minister with responsibility for crime Bunting’s statement was shocking and transparently clear that the party and administration were bereft of ideas and needed to be put out to pasture.
Win or lose Peter Bunting and the PNP are still in the dark as to solutions for this crisis.
Jamaica got rid of hanging to suit great Britain and for what? Britain does not have heavily armed gunmen roaming their streets killing whomever they wish.
In Jamaica, there is a battery of criminal rights advocates operating as human rights activists, many of them with bases in Washington DC.
Additionally, Jamaica has cast aside its hardcore police officers in search of a [Utopian]sic courtesy corps to satisfy the Leahy amendment.
See Act here: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43361.pdf .
In addition to that, they created INDECOM and other layers of oversight of the JCF rather than spend those resources upgrading and equipping the JCF.
This has resulted in mass attrition from the force. In the process of trying to stem the mass exodus, background checks have suffered and so the image of the force continues to suffer.
Ironically, as it relates to the Leahy amendment, the help Jamaica would receive from the US for it’s conformity to the dictates of that act is so marginal it was not worth it.
According to the ACLU, the US has not ratified any international human rights treaties since December 2002, when it ratified two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since that time, important new treaties have been adopted and other long-standing treaties have gained new member states. Unfortunately, the US has too often remained outside these efforts. For example, the US is the only country other than Somalia that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. It is one of only seven countries-together with Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga- that has failed to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Simply put, the US does not allow anything to get in the way of upholding its laws.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He also writes occasionally for the website Medium.com.
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