Too much crime for the police

October 14, 2016
A policeman secures the crime scene where the burnt bodies of five residents were found in a tenament yard in an area known as Africa on March Pen Road in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on Sunday.

There has been some outrage since Sunday's attack on a home in March Pen, St Catherine, where five people, including three children, were shot dead and the home set ablaze. A man, who the police have described as a person of interest, has since turned himself in, and now we wait to see what happens next.

The outrage, meantime, is running the usual course. Initially, social media exploded with calls for even more prayer. There have been more realistic calls for Government to do more to bring violent crimes under control. There have also been calls for the police to be more effective in stemming the bloodletting that has been going unabated for decades now.

The prayer thing, I will dismiss because the more people pray and the more prayer breakfasts we have, the more impetus killers seem to get, but I understand the sentiment. Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures, and even though prayers really don't work, it's all the people have, or so it seems.

The police are overwhelmed, and the Government seems devoid of workable solutions. Meanwhile, people who support the Opposition have been putting pressure on the Government to respond. Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced measures to cut off financing for the criminal element, but things are not as simple as that.

Jamaica's crime problem is a complex one, therefore, the solution will not be as simple as putting more police on the streets. And those putting pressure on the Government need to restrain themselves because the crime didn't begin when this Government took office in February.

Sometimes we behave as if crime stops whenever there is an election and then starts anew once the votes are counted. Crime is a constant, but the problem is that no one has been able to effectively address the real issues causing it for many reasons, chief among them are political expediency and the rapid rise of a culture in which criminality is accepted as the norm.

There is also an issue of trust. The people don't trust the police. Just recently, a policeman was arrested after he was found asleep at the home of a known criminal. It would be bad enough if this was an isolated incident, but more and more we are discovering that many policemen, far too many, are in cahoots with criminals.

So putting more cops on the streets and having them run amok in depressed communities, abusing innocent people, does little to solve the rampant crime that keeps away potential investment and job opportunities.




Putting more cops on the streets is like putting a bandage on a gangrenous sore; it does nothing other than cover the root cause of what the real problems are.

What Jamaica needs is a collective effort of everyone. Government, the Opposition, the public and security forces have to come together with the mindset that together we can deal with the real issues causing crime.

Paying lip service and pointing fingers is not going to accomplish much.

We need to take action. People need to tell what they know. No successful crime strategy can work without significant input from John Public. That being said, the police has to clean up their act. Corrupt cops and public officials, too, have to be exposed and thrown in jail. That is the only way the public will begin to trust the police and authority in general.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is the pace at which criminal cases are dealt with.

We have been trying to get Carlos Hill before the courts for close to a decade. In that time, the US has arrested, tried and prosecuted Bernie Madoff, Allan Stanford and David Smith. How can people have confidence in a justice system where it takes an eternity for people to get justice.

Closer to home, Khajeel Mais' murder case has been on hold for four years now. Why?

Justice needs to be swift if criminals are to realise that we are serious about getting them off our streets.

However, it takes to make these things possible, and that is perhaps the most important thing we need to accept.

We are a nation of quick fixes, and we seem reluctant to accept that in most instances, quick fixes don't last very long. Just like the long-term process we are in now to put the country on a better financial footing we need to commit to a long-term, lasting process of bringing Jamaica's crime problem to heel.

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