What the officials don't say about crime

Monday, November 20, 2017

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Dear Editor,

It is with much dismay that we learnt that, according to statistics released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the number of people killed in Jamaica for the year 2017 as at November 4, 2017 is 1,359, whilst the number of shootings is at 1,225. This revelation does not create a good or inviting impression for foreign investors or tourists.

What is really being done to curb crime if these statistics keep rising each year? It is not unexpected that the average citizen will assert that nothing is being done. In fairness, the zone of special operations (ZOSO) initiative was a new and welcome idea. Some people grasped at it with hope, while others had doubts. However, the police cannot be present everywhere at once and ZOSOs could very well prove to be pointless if they are not executed efficiently and in combination with other sensible tactics. No amount of ZOSO as a singular strategy can reduce crime.

The truth of the matter is that officials will not say that Jamaica has a crime problem because of itspeople. Not the guns nor the ammunition, nor the economic hardships, etc, but rather it is people. This may seem like common sense, which is why we need to desist from believing that getting the guns will do much of anything on its own. We also need to realise that neither a security minister nor a police commissioner can solve crime on their own either.

Frankly speaking, a lot of Jamaicans nowadays are violence-prone and such people will seemingly naturally resort to violence or murder to resolve a simple dispute, even against their own family members. Capturing weapons will hinder the perpetration of a homicide; however, if a person is determined to commit violent acts, s/he will find a way. If it is not with guns and bullets, it will be with a machete, or a knife, or a metal pipe, or poison, or bare hands, etc. Clearly it will become ridiculous to seize all those items in an effort to reduce crime, so it is apparent that the instrument of choice to commit violence is not the only issue.

Even if the security forces were able to round up every criminally intent person at this very moment, there would be future criminals stemming from the present generation of crime. The good news, however, is that their numbers can be significantly reduced.

Additionally, it is uncommon to hear officials say that there are some people who are simply not suited to be parents because they lack morals, maturity, and are not in a socio-economic position to properly raise children. Perhaps officials refrain from making such statements because rights advocacy groups will chime in to defend the rights of people to have children. Whatever the case may be, it is a reality that children that are the product of an unstable union, in a volatile environment, and raised by guardians who do not have core values to impart, are easy targets for criminals to groom.

The issue to focus more on is deterrence. There should be a systematic effort to determine what the root causes are of people becoming criminals and sever or correct those factors. Criminals are too confident and comfortable living lives of crime, and gangs are allowed the breathing room to recruit new members and terrorise communities.

The justice system in Jamaica is clearly not driving enough fear into them, and some of the citizens are not serious about condemning the acts of those who they know commit crimes. Perhaps the friends, relatives, and babymothers of gunmen are not turning them over to the police in order to avoid the consequence of reprisal because, as stated previously, the criminals are not afraid of the justice system. Or perhaps these individuals who accommodate criminals share the proceeds of crime and would rather hush up and live, than talk and be killed.

Simply capturing a murderous gang member, or a serial rapist for example, and putting him in prison does not send an assertive enough message to dissuade would-be criminals. There needs to be extremely harsh punishments for serious crimes. There also needs to be a very vigorous and merciless strategy of locating and apprehending criminals (the foolishness of gunmen escaping into “nearby bushes” needs to stop).

Law-abiding citizens are angry and frustrated that criminals are walking freely, and in some cases anonymously, among them and adding tallies to their kill list. Captured criminals need to be made an example of with the implementation of robust laws to discourage future perpetrators. Otherwise, it would seem that the security forces perhaps ought to do unto the killers what the killers are doing unto the innocent.

The Writer

blackpencilpoint@gmail.com

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