If the PNP and Mr Shields want to help...

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

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If the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) and former Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields have not already done so, they should review and improve their respective 10-point plans and submit them to the private sector groups working on a stakeholder coalition to buttress the fight against crime.

The most cursory glance at the proposals by Dr Peter Phillips, the Opposition leader, and Mr Shields, who came to Jamaica from Britain's Scotland Yard, unearths nothing new or inspirational, despite the fact that both men have been engaged directly in the process in their previous dispensations.

We are not, at this point, convinced that either Dr Phillips or Mr Shields enjoy the level of credibility to galvanise a national campaign to take the fight to the criminals who have us at their mercy.

Dr Phillips's PNP, which is looking to regain power over the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, is not completely without an interest in seeing the Government fail at stemming crime. However, no one should be in a position to doubt the party's resolve, which it risks in our deeply tribalistic politics.

Mr Shields, now a security consultant, would have already lost some confidence among the populace due to the fact that his tenure as a shiny new deputy commissioner of police was lacklustre.

Having said all that, we must concede that what is needed is not necessarily new crime plans, because many of the quite workable suggestions, while aired before, have not been implemented for a variety of reasons which are fairly well known.

To be fair to Dr Phillips, a former security minister, his suggestion that the Government seeks the support of other sectors of the public service to give the police priority in the wage negotiations is worth considering. The police are woefully underpaid at a time when economic progress is so dependent on a secure environment.

Dr Phillips, we believe, can be really groundbreaking if he leads the Opposition into an initiative to work with the Government to unite the country in waging the battle against crime, in similar manner to the Opposition's support, in the House and the Senate, of the resolution to extend the state of public emergency in St James. It is a politically difficult thing to ask of him because a more crime-free Jamaica could redound to the benefit of the governing party at the polls. However it is the patriotic thing to do.

The irony in that, of course, is that Dr Phillips would have, for a second time, not been rewarded for heading the country into the right direction, having done so with the economy during the 2012-2016 PNP Administration. It would indeed have been a true test of the depth of his patriotism, because political parties are in it to win it.

We should also concede that the burden of leading the crime fight is not Dr Phillips's or Mr Shields' who, at least, have gone beyond merely expressing verbal concerns. The onus is on the Andrew Holness Government to put the country on war footing.

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