Great job in leading crime fight, PM

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Dear Editor,

It is indisputable that crime and violence have been consistently trending down in Jamaica since the introduction of zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of public emergency (SOEs). Both of these initiatives I understand to be the intellectual output of Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The crime portfolio has been placed under great scrutiny. I recall a conversation I had with a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), who intimated that there are members who distinctly felt that the prime minister/minister of defence, among the other portfolios he holds, was too hands-on and too involved in crime-fighting efforts.

This officer of the JDF reminded me that the prime minister, like all ministers, is responsible for policy and policy only; not strategy!

He was of the firm belief that strategy and approach to crime fighting is the sole responsibility of those charged with implementation.

Today, when the ideas propagated by Holness are reaping their intended benefits, the public really should acknowledge that it was Holness who insisted on a radical approach to dealing with the country's crime epidemic.

I have to say I watched in admiration as he made the case for these crime-fighting strategies in Parliament even as the Opposition turned up its nose, and even as sceptics wagged their tongues and willed its failure.

Today, after significant reduction in murders, the new talk about town is whether SOEs and ZOSOs are long-term crime-fighting strategies.

The prime minister's rationale seems obvious perhaps to me only: Use radical, immediate and unusual methods to break the leg of the crime giant, capitalising on the element of surprise, to subdue it and then gradually taper off to normalcy accompanied by consistent policing and reorientation of society.

What we are seeing today, as far as results go, is the outcome of strategic manoeuvring by the prime minister; from the appointment of Major General Antony Anderson as commissioner of police to the commissioning of a National Security Council and, importantly, the unique approach to crime fighting.

Indeed, while I agree new National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has performed creditably, compared to predecessor Robert “Bobby” Montague, the real kudos belong to the prime minister. He is obviously the brain and implementer behind all the security initiatives of the Government that have been effective in fighting crime.

The ZOSO initiative is literally the prime minister's and it was he who engineered the placement of General Anderson as commissioner and Chang as minister, and he who has been the leading the charge to building parliamentary and public support around the initiatives.

Commendations to the prime minister on his initiatives. Those of us looking on recognise that, truly, when all is said and done, ideas backed by tangible and strategic action matter, and the prime minister has demonstrated most decidedly that he is a man of ideas and action.

M McLean

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