Editorial

Support for low-crime areas might be too late to save Mr Montague

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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It may not come in time to save National Security Minister Robert Montague's job, but the Government's decision to allocate funds to address problems in communities with very low crime rates is another sensible idea.

Mr Montague told the House of Representatives last Wednesday that Prime Minister Andrew Holness felt that there was the need to encourage these communities to retain their low-crime environment and had insisted on the funding.

The escalating murder toll — surpassing 1,500 so far this year — add the attempted importation of 119 guns which was, thank God, intercepted before it got here, and the ugly handling of the proposed importation of motor vehicles for the police force are making it harder and harder to maintain confidence in Mr Montague.

It would appear that men with good ideas and intentions go to the national security ministry to fail, and the long list includes bright minds such as the late Colonel Trevor MacMillan; legal luminary Mr K D Knight; Dr Peter Phillips; Mr Peter Bunting; and now Mr Montague.

Yet, no one disagrees that confidence in the leadership charged with fighting crime is paramount. The country must never get to that point where it resigns itself to the feeling that the Government cannot get the murder rate under control.

Mr Montague is looking more and more jaded with each violent incident, the latest occurring outside a funeral service at King's Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church on Windward Road in east Kingston.

We would be shocked if Prime Minister Andrew Holness does not shuffle Mr Montague out of the security ministry — even if he retains him elsewhere in the Cabinet — early in the new year.

As we said earlier, it's a perfectly good idea to reward communities in which crime is low, assuming, of course, that it is true that prevention is better than cure. It is absolutely counterproductive to wait until crime has infested a community before paying it attention.

While we support the zones of special operations initiative that is underway in Mount Salem, St James, and Denham Town, west Kingston, anyone with any sense knows that it is a wasteful way to spend hard-earned money in a country with so many pressing needs.

We are probably at the place where money is not what is going to solve our crime problem. In any event, there is just not enough of it to throw at the problem. Note that the security ministry argued, with the support of Mr Holness, for $9 billion in the first supplementary estimates. It got $2.4 billion, a mere drop in the bucket. And that is if it's lucky to collect.

Although we appear to be flogging a dead horse, we cannot stop hoping that the two major political parties will agree to take crime-fighting out of the partisan political arena and mobilise the country to work as one with the police.

Otherwise, the one thing constraining us from becoming the great little nation that we can be will continue to remain an albatross around our necks.

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