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PM talking tough on crime, but...

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Dear Editor,

I listened to the news coverage on Nationwide News as Prime Minister Andrew Holness spoke about the perilous situation in the country regarding crime and violence, and especially the association between police and dons. He was speaking at the Jamaica Police Federation's 76th Annual Joint Conference at the Jamaica Grande Moon Palace hotel in St Ann, last Thursday.

The prime minister said that some police are too friendly with dons and that “we know who the dons are”. He went on to say that the Police have to be separated from the dons. He added that the dons sometimes enjoy special privileges from their friends in the police force and that must stop.

I never thought that I would hear such a clear and accurate statement from a political leader, especially the prime minister, on this issue and I commend him for making it as this is the only way that we are going to be able to deal with the crime monster in the country; by facing reality.

The prime minister's remarks, however, brought responses from the large audience as many in the Government and Opposition are also known or suspected to be associated with dons who benefit from their association.

There is hardly anyone in Jamaica who would disagree with the prime minister's statements on the issue, nor would there be any major disagreement that there must also be a clear separation of our politicians at all levels from the dons, who the prime minister said are largely responsible for the current levels of organised crime, the use of guns, drug trafficking and the recruitment of more gang members.

It is necessary, therefore, for the prime minister and the national security team to ensure that the Members of Parliament, other political leaders and party affiliates are also separated from the dons to fight crime. If not it could easily defeat the purpose, as they would have no credibility or moral authority to lead the process in the country.

This is really a follow-up to an invitation to civil society members to join in preparing a crime plan for the country in 2018. We can update it to the 2018/19 plan as crime still poses the greatest problem to our sustainable development and safety.

John Mahfood highlighted “the ugly truth on crime” in a series of statements and in January 2018 and showed that we could finance a comprehensive plan by using some $45 billion lying in dormant bank accounts, plus grant funds from international partners who had pledged their assistance. The Jamaica Manufacturing and Exporters Association and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica were insisting that both the Government and Opposition meet and develop a joint approach to fighting crime and corruption, instead of playing the futile blame game.

I am repeating the still relevant five-point summary which was sent to the prime minister's office. It is indeed a situation of guns, gangs, the police, and garrisons which must be dealt with by the political leadership of the country, which is where it all started in the quest for power and victory at the polls. We believe it is best as a holistic activity in which everybody is informed, included, bears responsibility, and is accountable one way or the other for their performance:

1. organise the entire country to support and participate in crime plan, exchanging necessary vital public information and knowledge for our safety and use;

2. get agreement of political parties to work together to end violence, crime and corruption in all constituencies across the country;

3. clean up, reorganise, retrain, plan, and support the police, army, Independent Commmisson of Investogation, and other security organisations to combat crime systematically using all the appropriate laws and technological advances, including helicopters, mobile police stations, and other assets;

4. clean up, reorganise and empower the legal and courts system to quickly and effectively implement anti-crime and anti-corruption measures; and

5. clean up and reorganise the public civil service organisations to more actively and promptly work against criminal activity in the country.

 

Richard Crawford

Kingston 8

richard.dickie.crawford@gmail.com