Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Letter of the Day | Involve communities to deal with crime problem

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2022 | 12:05 AM


I write to express my chagrin at the multiple states of emergency (SOEs) recently declared by the Government. I listened with heaviness of heart to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, on multiple occasions, defending the so-called potency and efficiency of SOEs as a crime strategy.

My sentiment is this – either they think we are fools, or they hope we are fools. Do SOEs or the occasional Zones of Special Operations actually work? Well, the police commissioner takes pride in the fact that crimes (mainly murders) lessen during these operations. Of course! When Babylon (a name that has been attributed to members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force) is in town, the criminals lay low, perhaps even pack their bags and take a vacation, while law-abiding citizens suffer the inconvenience of long lines of traffic after a long, tiresome day at work.

While Major General Anderson tries to convince us that these strategies actually work, we are out here wondering: if they actually work, why does the crime rate return to what it was prior to the intervention. And in some cases it is even higher! Reporting that a few guns have been seized does not even scratch the surface of the problem. What about strengthening partnerships with churches and other social entities? Our youth dominate the records for major crimes committed. Is there a place to connect with these youth before they turn to a life of crime? While law enforcement officers are busy stretching their necks to look inside people’s vehicles asking if they have anything to declare, shouldn’t we have trained, equipped people in the communities, in schools implementing programmes that equip at-risk youth with conflict resolution skills, literacy and numeracy skills, among other well-needed skills and attitudes for the long term?

It is time we recognise that Jamaica’s crime problem needs an approach with the future in mind, not the here and now. Jamaicans need to unite, politics aside, and play our part in advancing the welfare of everyone. Mr Holness had said that Jamaicans would be able to sleep with their doors open – which has not happened.

Stop taking us for fools! The light is on you!