Click here to print page

Has Police Commissioner Anderson seen the light?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

We think Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson has a clear understanding of the very critical situation in which this country finds itself with regards to crime, particularly homicides.

He has used every opportunity he gets to articulate and paint the big picture on the fight against crime, including his latest interview carried in the Sunday edition of this newspaper, in which he implores Jamaicans to fight this scourge together.

And yet we could not help noticing the fact that, in what was his first major interview for the new year, our top crime-fighter and guardian of the nation completely avoided any reference to the role of our elected politicians who should provide leadership.

Could it be that General Anderson himself sees no practical use in calling on the Government and Opposition to provide the leadership in mobilising the country to put partisanship aside and unite against the criminals?

In our January 2, 2020 editorial, 'Crime-fighting: It's so hard to be strong when we've suffered for so long…', we pointed out that both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, in their new year's messages to the nation, made no effort to jointly summon Jamaicans to unite in a common assault on violent crimes.

“…[N]either leader made even fleeting reference to the multi-stakeholder talks aimed at bringing the political parties, civil society, the security forces, and the business sector together to fashion a comprehensive crime plan around which Jamaica can unite,” we noted.

Our suggestion was that the lack of a stomach to work together on crime might be related to the imminence of a general election, which the pundits seem sure could come this year and, in which case, Jamaica would be on its own.

Commissioner Anderson might well have seen the light. Instead of wasting time looking to the country's leadership, he instead spent his time encouraging Jamaicans to “seek consensus, take a collaborative approach, and make a national commitment to addressing the issue of violence in our society”.

He makes the powerful argument that, having examined and refined all the policing strategies tried over the past 15 years, “Only with a national consensus and a consistent implementation of these strategies will we see a rapid decline in violent crimes.”

General Anderson's Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been consistent in its position on the importance of partnerships and public engagement, stressing that the overall effort to remove disorder and mobilise the groundswell of support among our citizens for a safer Jamaica “requires continuous engagement with the public and private sectors, community-based interests, and our international partners”.

He has also mentioned the public expressions of support from a coalition of private sector bodies, including the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.

“By maintaining a close partnership with the public we are able to do better police work and fulfil our mandate. Jamaica's security may be our job, but it is every Jamaican's responsibility,” says the top cop.

Every Jamaican's responsibility except, perhaps, the politicians.