Over the years as crime continue to take center stage in Jamaica, calls have gone out from various quarters about what to do about it.
Some of those suggestions have ranged from the inane to the downright ridiculous.
Suggestions include becoming the 51st state of the United States.
That inane suggestion missed the point that Washington DC, which is largely Black and Puerto Rico which is overwhelmingly Hispanic, are still unable to receive statehood exactly because of their ethnic compositions.
Other suggestions include Divine Intervention.
Sure, let us just drop our hands and wait for God to come down and fix this crime problem we have.…… let us see how that will turn out!
The actual truth is that Jamaica has a problem of leadership. Arrogance and ignorance are the two characteristics most present in the mix, this brew is resulting in the crime levels the country is experiencing.
Don’t expect that this prognosis will make a lick of difference in the hyper-polarized swamp that our country has become.
For one, we have leaders who have never done a ride-along with the police, first because they would shit their pants at the inherent danger, secondly, they are too shit scared to risk their lives, so they cannot for a moment understand the polices point of view, particularly for the paltry remunerations the police receive anyway.
The totality of the Island’s crime problem may be summed up in a single sentence. On the one hand, we have the arrogant pricks in both political parties who are unwilling to support tough anti-crime measures because they are mixed up with the criminal gangs, and on the other, there are those who have no idea about what they are legislating outside their myopic parochial worldview. God forbid they would say, “I need to be educated on this”.
If you don’t know where you are going you may very well already be there. If you want to end up east, it would be a good idea not to head west.
Jamaica’s law enforcement efforts may be summed up as heading east though it wants to end up west.
For years, administrations in Kingston have routinely starved the police department of support, as a means of establishing bona fides with the criminals inside their bases of supports (garrisons).
Not necessarily because all of the political representatives who represented garrisons were necessarily criminals, but because they wanted the perks and trappings of political office, and staying in power was the way to have those perks.
As a consequence of their rapacious and craven desires to hold onto power, many started out as decent people but given enough time, through omission and commission, they became just as dirty as the guys who pulled the trigger.
If the police clearly see that their political bosses are supporting the people they are supposed to be arresting. Not paying them a livable wage. Not giving them the tools to do their jobs. Actively and demonstrably exacting punitive consequences on them when they do their sworn duties in arresting gangsters from the garrisons. Why would they stay true to their oath?
If other branches of the very same government are socialized to hate the police because the politicians have so polarized the country against the rule of law, how can the country reasonably expect to have a professional and competent police force?
In a country in which getting, a government job is important because the private sector is too small, and therefore unable to effectively assimilate the available talent, the five to six hundred police officers who leave the force each year is a telling sign that they do not like what they see within the department.
There are 63 so-called lawmakers in the lower chamber of the legislature in addition to those who are appointed senators and the other ticky-ticky called parish councilors and the other hangers-on.
That is where Jamaica’s crime problem lies.
The socialization of the Jamaican people to not having respect for the rule of law and those who enforce the laws did not happen overnight.
It is a time ‑tested strategy designed as I said previously, to curry favor with the masses.
Today, the dynamics are the same, even though there may be some desire to change the crime trajectory, having lost most of their control over the gangsters today’s politicians do carry a feeling of vulnerability.
Nevertheless, the desire to hold onto office is still paramount. Politicians today have to cater to the wider voter base than their predecessors did a generation ago.
This generation was raised to have no respect for the rule of law.
No one wants to acknowledge that dealing harshly and decisively with the gangsters is whats needed, the trappings of power are far too important.
No one wants to accept that that decisiveness must be codified into laws and that it will be the deterrent effect of those laws which will work toward changing the matrix.
The Islands political leaders feel they have to appease this generation of voters, a generation that has been schooled into believing that citizenship is a right they have which comes with no responsibilities.
A friend responding to an article I wrote recently about the taps on the wrist some corrupt judges were handing out to gangsters found with illegal guns, asked me If I was aware that some of the judges may be scared themselves to hand out appropriately tough sentences?
My thinking is that removing them from the streets through long sentences would be the way to go, but I understood the point he raised.
The range of suggestions continues largely from the editorial boards of the media houses. The very same media houses which told people to attack the police. The media houses who told people to [throw stones] at police stations. (Of course, they don’t stone the stations anymore, they evolved into using automatic weapons fire today).
And arguably most insidious of all, it was the media houses which gave platforms to paid mourners and others sent out from the garrisons, to lie as they block roads and claim that police had murdered their loved ones in cold blood. These paid and forced supposed eyewitnesses were always omnipresent at 3: 00 or 4:00 am when the police come calling on the murderous gangsters.
Even though the unscrupulous media knew that the outraged crowds were fakes and frauds, that they were lying, their lack of journalistic integrity was nowhere to be found. They allowed them to lie day in and day out, on radio and television and in the print media. And now we have a country which is almost ungovernable.
So for example when I was a member of the Ranger Squad in the mid 80’s there were shootings, but there is no way a situation would exist on lower mountain View Avenue where the “police” are warning motorists not to enter the area because gangsters with high-powered weapons are in control.
We would go get them, and they know it, we weren’t playing around. But the Prime Minister of the country who is being marketed as a one-man-know-it-all, will solve every problem in the country. He got himself involved in the symmetry of law-enforcement.
He tells police what they can and cannot do, even though he never did a ride-along and does not know anything about dealing with dangerous criminals.
He says the days of police officers kicking down doors are over. I am yet to figure out where he gets the authority to make those dictates.
He even involves himself in day to day policing protocols by directing the police commissioner to investigate things that clearly are not within his remit.
The idea that we can plant a field of corn and sit in anticipation of a harvest of rice, is the very definition of stupidity.
You and I know that the measures employed will not have long term positive effects. I have said so here for years. Applying aband-aid to a gunshot wound can hardly stop the bleeding, much less repair the damage internally.
Jamaicans are dying from a crisis of will, a crisis of competent and honest political leadership.
From the carnage on the roads to the gangster paradise that our country has become, there is only one remedy and it is not sweet and syrupy.
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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