What is the number?
What is the number of dead people which will get the Jamaican Government and the full political opposition to realize that the status quo is untenable?
I pose this question to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his colleagues as well as to Dr.Peter Phillips and his colleagues on the opposition benches.
What is critical mass for you?
Our country’s population hovers somewhere around 2.7 million. Last year alone there was a reported 1600 plus killings. Many Jamaicans including some police officers believe that the numbers are much higher.
With a population of 2.7 million and over 1600 dead, the chances of getting killed on an average day in Jamaica is one in under 17,000.
Those are shocking numbers which are probably much worse when we remove the political class and the wealthy elites who have security details, live in gated communities with heavy security and have the option of arming themselves.
When they are removed from the equation it leaves a much smaller pool of Jamaicans who are actually exposed to the will of the mindless murderers who kill at will.
The crisis of violent crime facing the country is not a phenomenon unto itself, it is representative of a much larger rot of disrespect and disregard which took over the country in the early 90’s and has developed now into a society which can only be characterized as lawless.
I ask our country’s leaders this question with a heavy heart. It is difficult for me to envisage the bodies of one thousand six hundred once living breathing vivacious humans laid out side by side, dead.
I cannot mentally reconcile all that innocent dead in a situation in which there is no nation on nation conflict.
The way our leadership is looking at this issue is demonstrably not working. Personally speaking, I am tired of talking about this, I am tired of writing about it. I’m sure this is true of most Jamaicans as well, who knows what needs to be done but are not in positions to change it.
The not so distant passage of the (ZOSO) Zones Of Special Operations Act in the Island’s legislature gave many people hope that finally, the Government was doing something about crime.
The Act, the brainchild of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is tantamount to a drug fiend’s first high which dissipates rather quickly and can never be duplicated.
Many Jamaicans, including past and present police officers, were, and have been highly supportive of the Act, hopelessly clinging to anything which is being sold as a solution to the crime Monster.
This publication which is dedicated to justice and the rule of law and this writer chose to look at the long ball. As a result, I said ZOSO was a distraction which would have no real measurable effect on crime and in time would be proven to be a mere distraction by the nation’s leadership.
WHY ZOSO CANNOT WORK.
The Zones Of Special Operations Act. is simply a situation in which large amounts of police officers and members of the Military are placed in a certain geographic area. )usually, one determined to be a high crime area).
Naturally, the authorities which decide which area is to be designated a ZOSO say no one knows where the next ZOSO will be, except the Prime Minister and his tight group of national security advisers.
Unfortunately, that gives me no comfort. As a cop who spent a whole week in the hills of Westmoreland waiting for airplanes to land at an illegal strip in Montpelier, only to be approached in the bushes by one of the men we were supposed to be arresting as soon as the plane landed, and told we were wasting our time because his boss received word that we would be coming before we reached there.
That information given to politicians was leaked to criminals effectively placing our lives at risk and making a mockery of crime fighting.
ZOSO is the state of affair which ought to exist across the Island. It is the sense of freedom and security citizens should feel living and participating in their communities. However, in order to build that out, it would require an extraordinary amount of human resources which Jamaica simply does not have.
As it stands it is unsustainable because it uses up large amounts of resources in small geographic areas leaving other areas without.
Finally, criminals would be stupid to stay[they aren’t] in an area knowing it is highly likely their high crime area may be descended on by swarms of police and soldiers.
I argued that criminals would simply move to other areas and continue with their activities.
That is the reason you do not hear much talk about ZOSO anymore, mere months after it’s passage.
Since we can now acknowledge that ZOSO was a mere distraction which has no hope of transforming the crime landscape it behooves us to begin the process of looking at real solutions which will have positive effects.
I was hopeful when it was determined that Andrew Holness would be the next prime minister of our country.
After his loss to Portia Simpson Miller, I wrote an article challenging him to go out into the fields and talking to the people no matter where they lived. I challenged him to roll up his sleeves and sit with the people in every nook and cranny, eat with them and hear their concerns. Whether he read the article or not is neither here nor there, Andrew Holness did exactly that.
However, after winning the last national elections I was stunned to hear the elitist rhetoric coming from Holness.
I have zero expectation of anything positive from the leadership of the PNP, that is the reason I cast my lot with Holness.
I got a rude awakening when I heard the newly minted Prime Minister berating the JCF, telling his friends that there would be no return to the days when police would kick in doors and summarily kill people.
I was stunned at the sense of vitriol and the barefaced nature of the PrimeMinister’s defamation which was bereft of substance and was at its core a self-serving and gratuitous statement born out of malice and ignorance.
It was a statement designed to placate and quite the criminal rights lobby which has set up shop on the Island.
Ironically, the Prime Minister’s wife a newly minted member of the legislature did not seem to share those sentiments.
At least her public utterances seem to differ from those of her husband.
Andrew Holness did not need to create that chasm between himself and the police department, they voted en-masse for him allowing the labor party to sweep the elections gaining a one-seat majority in the legislature.
The Labor Party was able to keep its 21 incumbents intact and gained 11 former seats briefly held by the PNP in 2011.
The calculation to throw the security forces under the bus was an old one used by both political parties toward furthering their political agendas.
Sadly, far too many members of the Island’s police force are intrinsically tied to the two political parties, and for no good reason.
The PNP has never had any desire to deal with the nation’s crime crisis.
In fact, the previous unprecedented hold that the party had on power and the ensuing deterioration of our national culture is a direct result of the party’s hands-off approach to crime in some instances and it’s direct involvement in others.
The Government’s decision to avoid taking real and practical steps against criminals coupled with its disrespectful posture toward the police has not only destroyed the morale of the police, it has emboldened criminals and placed the lives of citizens in peril.
The present brouhaha between Minister Montague and Commissioner Quallo in which the Commissioner, we are told has been told he has to go, is another attempt by the Government to deflect from the consequences of its own failures on its most important responsibility to secure the nation.
The longer the administration takes to stop playing politics with national security the harder it is for the security forces to reverse the outcome of this policy.
The more this government and the opposition play politics is the more Jamaicans will die.
It is a sad and shocking crisis, and lack of political leadership, the consequences of which are tens of thousands of dead Jamaicans over the years as the political class panders to foreign groups much to the demise of our people.