Letters to the Editor

Consider the lives saved, Madam Public Defender

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry needs to understand that the police in Jamaica, like elsewhere, use data to target individuals and drive anti-crime operations.

The enhanced security measures now operating in St James resulted in 60 less murders year-to-date. It is a big deal! Without the enhanced security measures in place the 60 less murders could easily have been translated to 60 times two, or even more, due to reprisals which have become inevitable occurrences in the Jamaican context.

The laying of charges against just over 100 individuals for various crimes becomes significant and relevant when second- and third-order effects are analysed using historical data for trends, linkages, spatial and pattern analysis.

Globally, trends, linkages, spatial and pattern analysis, when converged using metadata, provide the best mode to predict future incidents of crime. The hills of St James encapsulate communities which are criminogenic; so too are sections of Montego Bay. This is due mainly to the unstructured development and high population density, which is compounded by high levels of underemployment or unemployment, where the basic necessities of life become a daily challenge for survival. These challenges oftentimes lead to violent incidents in which murder is not an unusual end result.

Murders reached the previous levels of 335 in a calendar year, as experienced in St James before the new security measures were implemented, where every person charged and every person linked to those charged must be debriefed to establish what they know. The police must also use the extra powers to know what is 'knowable' about the gangs operating in the space, including information on their local and international facilitators.

This process takes time, Madam Public Defender.

Of note, for this period of enhanced security in the parish not one of the detainees complained about being abused by the security forces to elicit information.

It is only by going this route that law enforcement and policy practitioners may design and execute workable plans to prevent violent episodes. For this reason, the detention of over 1,700 individuals must be seen and understood in context.

I therefore suggest that the public defender support an extension of the enhanced security measures as it has saved lives and may well deliver lasting peace within not just St James, but the entire Jamaica.

The public defender needs to allow the security forces to do their work to the complete benefit of the nation.

Ian Haughton





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