As a former front line crime-fighter who has been shot in the line of duty defending my country from violent thugs, I did not expect any quarter and those with whom I worked will recall that I gave none to those who would extinguish the lives of the innocent.
Nevertheless, it was the tardiness, interference, lack of seriousness and focus on crime which caused me to make the critical decision 28 years ago to leave the JCF. It was a decision I never once regretted.
Even at this late stage, had I stayed I would still be a serving member, and that is the reason that I continue to speak out on the issue of crime and violence, and the consequences the complicity of the two political parties is having on our country.
Some of our former law-enforcement practitioners much smarter than I am, have argued that crime is multidimensional, and that if a fullsome approach is adopted we will begin to reap rewards.
Others in the hallowed halls of academia contend that the violence we continue to experience in Jamaica will simply vanish, if a Utopian scenario is created in which everyone has a job and enough resources to purchase whatever they want.
I summarily rubbish those arguments, as there is no evidence that poverty in Jamaica is the primary driver of violent crimes. That is not to say that as far as some crimes are concerned poverty does not play a part.
From the Lotto scam, there is data to be extrapolated which will show that poverty plays no part in its continuance.
Smart tech-savvy young men are able to scam huge sums of money from the vulnerable. They then use the illicit, ill-gotten returns to purchase high powered weapons and build-out dangerous criminal enterproses which the Government should be extremely startled by.
Law enforcement has continued to make the case that lotto scamming is a major source of the resources funding the criminal gangs operating across the Island.
I have long called for anti-gang laws similar to the US Rico Statute. The Jamaica anti-gang law, though nowhere close to the Rico Statute in strength, was a good first step.
Which brings us to the trial of alleged gang leader Uchence Wilson and his 17 co-accused.
Those watching the case may also be concerned as the lawyers for the accused defendants at the long delay in announcing a verdict in the trial presided over by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.
(The old adage *justice delayed is justice denied *) comes to mind in this instance.
The court is on record as saying that a verdict would have been announced on January 8th, 2020.
[However, in a December 6th letter to attorneys representing the accused defendants, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, explained that due to software issues used to collate, analyze and annotate evidence, an alternative had to be sought. The procurement for the new software, according to letter, was not completed until last week. “Unfortunately, the procurement process was not completed until December 4, 2019, when the link to the software was acquired. This new software seems more promising, but there is an inevitable learning curve which was be successfully negotiated. The transcripts and other evidence will not have to loaded unto this software, annotated and managed,” Sykes said. ]
The timely, fair and equitable dispensation of justice is some of the cornerstones on which a just and thriving society is built. Surely, in this heated environment of violent crimes and the urgency which ought to be attached to its resolution, the last thing which should be holding up the timely resolution of an important case is appropriate computer software.
The Chief Justice’s letter reveals some basic shortcomings. Quote; “This new software seems more promising”.
Sounds slipshod, rather than a professional audit which would determine qualitatively, exactly what is needed instead of what seems to be a guessing game as to its performance.
“There is an inevitable learning curve which was to be successfully negotiated”.
In other words, “we don’t know for sure whether the new software will work as we expect it to and even so we will have to then learn how to use it”.
Police and Prosecutors seem to have held up their end of the bargain. The question now is, have the justice ministry done its due diligence. Calls to the Ministry has not resolved that issue.
The optics are less than desirable, here we have an important case, one which for better or worse can be a benchmark in the way the law is enforced and unfortunately, an agency of government fell down on the job.
The partisan apologist who defends every mediocrity will also defend this latest iteration as well, you know, “things happen.”
The fact of the matter is that it is the responsibility of someone to procure whatever software is needed to ensure the smooth running of the process.
That did not happen and someone should be held accountable.
This level of protracted tardiness has been indicative of the way the public sector operates. For years much of the blame for the breakdown of the process in the criminal justice space has been laid at the feet of the police.
This cannot be.
The nation should be highly focused on the outcome of this case. On it hinges whether the practices used by police and prosecutors are good enough to secure convictions in a system which is highly hostile to the prosecution.
We too will be watching.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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