Crime should not be politicized.
Why, because it affects us all and the consequences it imposes on society are far too consequential for us to be pulling in different directions on it.
One would think that with that in mind, the issue of how to combat crime effectively would take on an a-political tone and demeanor.
Not so, it is too shiny an object for politicians to ignore when it comes to seeking political mileage.
Never mind that the problem is not new, that the problem is also a major issue when each political party is in office.
As soon as a party is out of office the other side becomes the worst ever on the issue.
Now, despite the foregone, It is nevertheless understood that political parties are not religious institutions.
In fact, since we can’t even place our trust in religious institutions we clearly cannot place our trust in any institutions, least of all, rapacious power-hungry political parties.
The Holness Administration has taken some steps, albeit, ones which cannot be the extent of the administration’s long-term strategy on crime.
Those steps include the Creation of Zones Of Special Operations (ZOSO), in targeted areas and the oft-critiqued limited states of emergencies(SOE’s) in a few others.
Like others, I too have opined on both initiatives.
My take is that neither initiative can be the objective but a means to an end.
Simply put, I believe that the policy on crime should be far more bush-clearing with less decorating.
Now is the time that the dirty work of eradicating dangerous murderers from our midst must be done before installing a long-term crime policy.
What is irrefutable, is that the temporary measures instituted by the administration are having some measure of success.
If only one innocent life is saved by these measures, there is no argument to be made(outside constitutional limits) for their discontinuation, much less when hundreds of lives are being saved.
Having a political opposition make hay out of crime is to be expected.
Having the People’s National Party(PNP) try to create leverage is nauseating, considering that it was only a couple years ago, a clueless and exasperated Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, threw up his hands and declared that the only thing which can save Jamaica from its present crime epidemic was “divine intervention.”
Now I too understand the power of “divine intervention,” but I’m also mindful that faith without works is dead and as Paul said in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me”.
We ask for his help then get up and do what we can to fix our situations. That is what the Government is doing.
The political opposition should seek leverage elsewhere and shun the populism it has used since its inception as a political party.
For the good of the nation, no one should want to see the administration fail on crime.
The cost is simply too great.
Since the cost in blood and treasure is too great to play games, it is important that we have all hands on deck , yes, administration and opposition alike.
What is inconceivable and must not be tolerated are moles and termites within the governmental structure, actively eating away at the foundations.
I could go on and on about how a house divided against itself cannot stand and any number of other cliches.
But there is no need to state the obvious. If there are persons within the Government who are paid with tax dollars and are working duplicitously to thwart any aspect of the Government’s objective it is important that they are removed in the interest of the country.
It is not out of the ordinary that employees in a democratic government would opine on policies they may not like.
Sometimes we put our foot in our mouths when we tread in areas we do not understand.
So I understood then, how the Public Defender could have put her foot in her mouth when she prematurely called for an end to the state of emergency in Saint James in April of this year.
Like many Jamaicans, the arguments put forward by the Public Defender are the same.
We really do not like scraping up large groups of young men and detaining them as a crime-fighting strategy.
Nevertheless, those concerns have to be balanced with the greater urgency of stopping the wanton loss of life.
See [PD’s call here]
Unfortunately, the Public Defender did not even bother to demonstrate that she understood, let alone care about the bloodshed.
Her singular focus was on the young men who may or may not be guilty of any crimes, who are picked up and have to suffer the indignity of spending a couple of days in jail.
None of us want this to be the way we fight crime, but sometimes our hand is all we have to plug the dike.
I never got the impression that officials like Arlene Harrison-Henry, Earl Witter before her, Terrence Williams of INDECOM and others sees themselves as arms of the government which ought to work cohesively for the greater good of the government’s objectives.
Instead, they operate as parts of the government which has gone rogue.
Here is what Arlene Harrison-Henry said to the media last April which clearly shows that by her own words she does not see her role and that of her office as part of the Government.
Speaking of detainees…
“You release them after spending three, four and five days in custody, and less than 10 percent have been charged. That has serious consequences as to whether that was lawful,” argued Harrison Henry. “Even under a state of emergency, there is a minimum threshold that [they] have to meet before[they] deprive you of your liberty. [They] have to see you behaving a certain way or committing an offense.“
Mrs. Harrison-Henry’s own words are demonstrably clear that she views the security forces (an arm of government) adversarially. Even though the ill-begotten office she holds was unnecessary, she and her staff are paid with tax dollars and that makes her and all employees of that office subject to the dictates of the government.
She has no right to be running a separate operation that is antithetical to the direction in which the administration is going.
Regardless of which administration nominated her to the post, if she does not support the administration’s mandate she has a duty to resign.
She should not be allowed to subvert the policy positions of the government through the use of lies and half-truths.
The shocking reality is that the lies and misinformation that the Public Defender testified to in the parliament recently were totally un-necessary regardless of her political or ideological position.
Stating the facts about what she saw truthfully did not mean that she was not doing her job.
In other countries lying to the parliament is at least a firing offence if not a criminal one.
Lying to the nation and smearing the police made her office a joke.
Lying to the nation showed that she cannot be trusted.
The Public Defender would do all Jamaicans a favor if she did the right thing and tendered her resignation.
Failing which she should be shown the door.
Public office is about honor. service. selflessness. duty. commitment.character.
If we expect that from other public officials we must also ask the same of the public defender.
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