TOURISM AND CRIME:

    Two stories emerged out of Jamaica in the Daily Gleaner of Wednesday 11th 2012 that ought to scare Jamaicans wherever they are domiciled.

(1MoBay firms suffer as cruise ship arrivals drop.Jamaicagleaner.com.

(2)Gangs still a problem – Ellington.radio@gleanerjm.com

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I point out these two events as I believe they are inexorably linked. I am also sorry to say I pointed this out before but…. I have. Last year Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington stoutly declared he had charged his commanders to come up with comprehensive plans to dismantle the gangs operating within their commands.

See blog: July 21, 2011 By: mike6470 Filed in: General News

On the occasion Commissioner Owen Ellington made the call to his commanders I gave my unsolicited opinion, that call would do nothing to alleviate the Criminal Gang problem within the country. Almost a year later we have seen a change of Government and unfortunately the Commissioner of Police is stating as I expected, Gangs are still a problem I pointed out in blog posts (in green) above that there were a plethora of reasons why this was a fishing expedition by the Commissioner, not least of which is the fact that most of his commanders have no training in dealing with gangs, and on that basis alone the call to action was bound to fail.

 

Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington

But more than any shortcomings that may be in the security forces, are significant failures of leadership, will, or desire to do anything about that problem. Before Christopher Coke was extradited to the United States, the Labor party Government of Bruce Golding showed that despite the arguments he advanced in support of his decision to intervene, he was prepared to put the country’s credibility on the line in order to protect an accused drug dealer/gun runner. Then Prime Minister Golding stated that he was simply protecting the rights of a Jamaican citizen. That argument would have been a noble argument had his and other Administrations not sat back and observe other Jamaicans of less notoriety being shipped off to the United States to face trial. Anyone privy to my views will attest to the fact that I do not speak for people extradited, neither do I hold water for them, I merely pointed to Golding’s interference into a matter that ought to have been left where it belonged, in the courts. To my mind and that of a lot of other people, his actions amounted to unmitigated criminal support.

The other party,the People’s National Party which was just returned to power on December 29th of 2011 was in opposition then , they made a point of riding that issue until it culminated into Coke being extradited to the United States, on the face of it one could reasonably argue that was a good thing for Jamaica, well not so fast. There were explicit un-intended consequences as a result of what was a blatant act of political posturing by Portia Simpson Miller and her party. Seventy three people were killed in Tivoli Gardens, and crime went down 40% up to the end of the labor party’s term.

The most egregious act the PNP did was to deny the security forces additional time to fight criminal terrorists hell-bent on the destruction of the Jamaican state. The very person now in charge of the security apparatus Peter Buntin stated that they would not vote to give the police and Army additional time to go after terrorists because they may abuse citizens rights, Really?       

Peter Buntin National Security Minister

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE WORLD UNDERSTAND THAT THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL PARTY NOW THE GOVERNMENT IN JAMAICA REFUSED TO VOTE TO GIVE THE COUNTRY’S SECURITY FORCES ADDITIONAL TIME TO CHASE DOWN TERRORISTS AND EXTERMINATE THEM,WHILST THEY WERE IN OPPOSITION  ON THE PRETEX THAT THE SECURITY FORCE (MAY) ABUSE CITIZENS RIGHTS.

 

    Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, PM.

For a long time when the question of tourism in the Caribbean came up Jamaica came to mind, and in particular Montego Bay. Successive Administrations of both parties did little to improve the product, so though quaint Montego Bay was, it was just a matter of time before it lost its appeal and charm, that time is here.  As a young officer I spent, many hours on that strip from Walter Fletcher beach to Sam Sharpe square chasing down prostitutes, male and female and arresting drug dealers. There never was a comprehensive plan to eradicate small offences, and I’m still unconvinced that the political directorate or the police hierarchy understood the need to develop a permanent strategy. The  end result is that Montego Bay was allowed to decay, today the second city is a literal eye-sore with many a cruise ship passengers confiding in me that they do not get off the ship when it docks in that city. The environs of Montego Bay is littered with shanty towns and gangs run wild. It cannot be a good thing when the primary tourism attraction is almost ringed by shanty towns where police and soldiers are engaged in gun battles sometimes for hours on end.

Jamaica’s number one foreign exchange earner is tourism, it would occur to any sane planner that security would necessarily be on the front burner of any government, well as we have seen the Labor Party of Bruce Golding was quite prepared to go to bat for a known criminal and this new Government populated with the same people who were involved in a multiplicity of scandals, inept, will be unable to do anything about crime. The present Government is too heavily invested in allowing too many Jamaicans a free hand at illicit activity as a payback for putting them back in office. They are and will be, physically and ideologically restrained from taking actions against Jamaican gangs. As a man said to me after the PNP victory at the polls, “no more police locking down dance” in reference to the policy the previous government had adopted to curbing some of the criminality by enforcing the Town and community act that governs night noises.

The present leadership of the country have no concept of how to effectively tackle crime, in fact they really do not care, the mindset of their supporters is rather instructive, and (“Now wi can eat a food”) Clearly there is a general feeling within our country whenever the PNP is in Government that criminals have carte blanche To do what they please, in fact over one 10 year period during the last PNP administration not a single detective was trained by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, not one, this in addition to the fact that the Force was woefully short of quality detectives to begin with. The consequence of that was clear to see, crime escalated to unprecedented levels, and criminals having no fear, actually challenged the authority of the state through force of arms.

Tivoli Gardens have been literally out-of-bounds for the security forces for many years until Christopher (Dudus) Coke was routed after the United States insisted he be arrested and extradited to them to stand trial on drug and weapons charges, charges he was all too happy to plea guilty to. Those charges he plead guilty to were reportedly small potatoes compared to what he is actually guilty of. A complicit media, Criminal rights lobby and many in civil society for years were fooled into believing the lie that people living in Tivoli were somehow being set upon by the Police. The truth is criminals in that redoubt have for years capitalized on that sympathy by developing a sophisticated strategy that was on full display when the security forces finally were forced to enter that enclave. For years police were fired on by criminal thugs living in that state that was allowed to operate within the Jamaican state. As a young police officer I took fire in front of the Denham Town Police Station with my colleagues when we went from The Mobile Reserve to shore up the staff of that station after mercenaries of Tivoli gardens attacked the station with gunfire. Our truck was literally destroyed because the then commanding Officer of western Kingston was petrified of responding to the attack, so he told us to stay inside and not respond. As a result windows were shot out as we lay hunched down obeying orders not to return fire. The Police had capitulated out of fear for the hell they would catch in the media and other sectors, for doing what we were sworn to do, uphold the law.

These and other acts of cowardice on the part of the police did nothing for morale within the department, many people left , many decided to collect their salaries and do nothing , and unfortunately many decided to join in the criminality. But most importantly this choke hold Tivoli had on the nation was not lost on the criminal bosses operating there, it also wasn’t lost on criminals operating in other places in the country who swiftly recognized that they could commit any criminal act go to Tivoli Gardens, and no one would dare enter to get them. This allowed the hierarchy of the Tivoli Empire to develop a loyal following of mercenaries, funded and financed with the proceeds of drug money from the United States, and other countries as well as a massive extortion racket that ran from Kingston to as far as Manchester. This enabled them to purchase more guns and ammunition that broadened the empire. The most unfortunate part of this national tragedy is that tax-payers were forced to pay for this criminal enterprise as the Presidential clique operating out of Tivoli Gardens by Coke, was awarded one government contract after another.

Street thugs also understood that the police were fighting this battle with their hands tied behind their backs and they tactfully and tactically capitalized on this. They artfully trotted out mourners who profess to witness every case of shooting by police detailing with specificity, ever aspect of what happened in each case, irrespective of the time of day the shooting occurred. The media being tacit cheerleaders in all of this, are more than happy to offer microphones to the fake mourners to spew their lies. Police faced dangers other than the traditional and obvious, this includes imprisonment when they are attacked by heavily armed thugs.

Militia men developed military type tactics when they trade gunfire with police, one effective tactic was to remove the weapons of fallen comrades, leaving the police having to answer time and time again to the question, “where is the weapon that this dead man was firing”

This was, and still is, a public relations nightmare for an inept police force, that largely has a hierarchy that is more concerned with pleasing and licking the boots of their political bosses, than actually upholding the laws. The Police licks the boots of the politicians, the Politicians licks the boots of drug/gun running punks, what power does the police have over the Dons? Of course those who support criminals as a way of life, and those in the media spare no expense in publicizing the supposed transgressions the evil police force visits on the poor innocent people of Tivoli gardens (sic. Of course this did not preclude the Police hierarchy from developing a strategy that would have prevented Tivoli as it was from becoming that cancer it became, using simple technologies like audio and video devices would have exposed some of that nonsense for what it was. Of course this would actually require the hierarchy of the Police force to actually be capable of thinking. This included those who left the Military and were forced onto Police Officers as commissioners of Police.

I urge my fellow Jamaicans to observe these two events in a parallel prism, the slowing down of tourism in Montego Bay and the continued gang problem within the country. They are related, interconnected and will have a devastating effect on the economy going forward in the face of an impotent, inept, and in some cases unwittingly complicit Administration.