Jamaica records one of the highest murder rate in the world. This tiny Island of 2.7 million people kill each other at such an alarming rate many nations do not want Jamaicans on their shores. Even within the Caricom community there is discrimination against Jamaicans seeking to enter other Islands in search of employment . Jamaicans are seen as loud abrasive and exceptionally violent. Even as we seek to dispel that notion it seems we do very little to disprove it by our very actions.
I have written extensively about the gaps within the legislative realities and crime reduction in our country. Simply put our laws are archaic they do very little in the way of deterrent to crime. Some intellectuals, community organizations and other sectors of the society have argued stridently for social intervention as a remedy to the Island’s crime epidemic. I disagreed with that notion when I exited the law-enforcement stage in 1991 as a young man, I still disagree today. Papering over a bad wall does not make a sound wall , it is still a bad wall. The police department is a part of the problem also, just not the entire problem.
Some of my former colleagues argue that the police department has evolved, officers are more focused, the upper cadre of the JCF are more educated and motivated. This may all be true, and thankfully so, but a police department’s mandate is to eradicate crime, not be more wonderful in conversations or seeming smarter.It would be nice if we can have a crime free society and a smart police force. An educated police department and a crime ridden society does no one any good.
As a small business owner I am patently aware that no company may point to its effectiveness if it is losing money. So too, the Constabulary as a unit, may not point to internal changes claiming success, if it fails at it’s core mandate of reducing and controlling crime. An educated Police force is no use to the country if it fails to put that education to use, lobbying the legislature for the tools it needs to deliver the services it promises. Education in that context then, cannot be an end but must be the means to an end. One of the problem with the way crime is approached in Jamaica is, a disconnect in understanding that crimes committed as a consequence of social and economic ills cannot be approached the same way organized crime is handled, or vice versa. Commissioner Owen Ellington alluded to this recently.
“We have seen where very recently, very, very high-profile multiple-murder, gunrunning, drug-trafficking individuals have established themselves in Jamaica. They have opened offices, they have relocated families here, they have transferred huge amounts of financial resources into Jamaica because they are seeing Jamaica as a soft spot that can be exploited,” the police commissioner told a meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee at Gordon House in downtown Kingston Tuesday.http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ellington–Int-l-criminals-view-Jamaica-as-a-safe-haven_15314056
Some of the misinformed who designated hardened criminals “corner crews”have vested interest in tribalism, no tribalism no job, no legitimacy for them. Whether the Commissioner knew this all along or this is a moment of awakening for him (a come to jesus moment) is refreshing. Former street cops like myself and many others understood this concept decades ago. There is one solution for serious offenders and that is a very heavy-handed approach. The Commissioner’s words will have fallen on deaf ears as the legislators in Jamaica are in many cases defense counsel to the criminals and in some cases they are themselves integral parts of criminal gangs. Wherever there is low crime , legislators have enacted tough no-nonsense legislation on behalf of their constituents. This requires will and character, two things no one would accuse Jamaica’s politicians of possessing.