Members of the Jamaica Police Force have a very tough road to hoe. They are asked to put their lives on the line in defense of some of the most criminal-loving people to be found anywhere. How did Jamaica get there you ask? Jamaica got there because of political interference in law-enforcement. This created an attitude which says, if you are connected, strong , powerful, or a bad-man you can simply bad man your way through the system and no one will dare touch you. This attitude started around the time Michael Manley became Prime Minister in 1972. His rhetoric was one which was construed to mean, one could simply take whatever one wanted, whether you own it or not.
The period between 1972 when Michael Manley’s was elected to office and 1980 when he was booted from it, was the most tumultuous period in Jamaica’s modern history. High prices, run-away crime, food shortages and a general ideological and moral shift in the direction of our country. Today Jamaica is reaping the bitter fruits of that shift. The Jamaica of today is one where the mention of the word “God” to many, is a dirty word. It is a Jamaica which indulges in lascivious and Hedonistic pleasures. A Jamaica opposed to authority, yet hell-bent on death and destruction. At the Genesis of this shift, crime escalated under Manley, it got so bad, his administration was forced to build the Gun Court and institute a state of Emergency. At the heart of those actions , is the certitude of my arguments. When you create a feeling in people that they can do as they please, They do as they please. At the same time Manley was building the Gun-Court his goons were actively engaged in march up to police stations and forcibly removing criminals from police custody. This was unprecedented in Jamaica. This kind of thuggery was unknown to the country under the leadership of its former Prime Minister Hugh Lawson Shearer of the Labor Party. Shearer would tolerate none of that behavior, he gave police a free hand to go after the criminals wherever they were.
Unfortunately for Jamaica ,the labor party, seeking to strike a counter balance, built and maintained two premier garrisons during that time . Tivoli Gardens and Wilton Gardens(Rema). After Seaga won in 1980 he did not stand in the way of the Police doing their duties. There was one caveat of course, Tivoli Gardens was out of bounds. I entered Law Enforcement as a fresh-faced idealist who believed I could change the world, wanting to do good. I wanted to give people the opportunity to live their lives having the freedom to go wherever they chose to in their own country without the peril of imminent death. As a High school kid I saw what Political violence did to our country. I wanted to be a part of changing it. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that nothing I could do as a police officer would ever change Jamaica for the better. I recognized pretty early that the corruption was at the top , and the stream was already way too contaminated. I made plans to exit and was out fully in 10 years.
Despite the relative calm of the Seaga years of the 80’s the writing was on the wall. The people had tasted the fruits of the Manley ideology, freeness, do what you want. law enforcement will not be allowed to touch you. Take people’s property through force of arms. Receive money for no work. The general lawlessness of the 70’s was too strong a lure to resist. The labor party was booted from office in 1989 and Michael Manley was returned to office, despite the unmitigated disaster which were his previous two terms.
What resulted after was an unprecedented 18 1/2 years of PNP rule which drove the nail in the economic and social coffin of Jamaica. Punctured only by a brief 4 -year interlude when Bruce Golding and the JLP was elected to office by a razor-thin margin of victory in 2007. By 2011 the PNP was back in office under the leadership of Portia Simpson Miller, who Golding had beaten just 4 years prior. Today only about 13% of the nations people are in the middle-class. A shocking 83% of the people are living below the poverty line. All of this, after 28 years of People’s National Rule of the last four decades.Corruption is the hall-mark of the Administration.
Rating Agency Transparency International rated Jamaica 84% corrupt. Crime will not be heading south anytime soon. The courts cannot be trusted to dispense equitable and fair justice. Despite our best hopes, there are large chunks of the Jamaican population who are simply above the laws. A huge chunk of the populace, both at home and in the diaspora are supportive of criminality and chaos. Some living abroad actively fund crime there. Jamaica is experiencing the bitter fruits of the Manley doctrine.