Charles: Take politicians out of crime-fighting

Charles: Take politicians out of crime-fighting

House Speaker also wants united voice against criminals

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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SPEAKER of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles Sr is calling for aspects of the management of crime in Jamaica to be taken out of the hands of politicians and placed in the lap of the police force.

Charles, Member of Parliament for Clarendon North Central, who is serving his last term as an elected official, also wants all parliamentarians to speak with one united voice in the fight against crime, which has stained Jamaica's image on the global stage.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force has responsibility for operations matters as they relate to crime-fighting, but policy direction is spearheaded by the political directorate, headed by the minister of national security, in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence, of which Prime Minister Andrew Holness is the man in charge.

But, in response to alarming crime-figures over time, and a murder rate that keeps going up despite security measures employed to reduce it, Charles Sr said that the time has come for crime-fighting to be aggressively dealt with by the police without any political intervention.

“The police must be in charge of ridding ourselves of this scourge called crime,” Charles Sr told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

“Right now it's the politicians who are in charge. The politician can't be in charge of solutions to crime. The police must say what they want to solve crime, and until the police are put in charge of solutions to solve crime we will never get rid of it,” Charles stated.

The House Speaker cited pettiness as an issue in Parliament, as some elected officials, in this case those from the Opposition benches, often go against Government proposals because they want to score political points.

“When the commissioner of police and his men who comb the country have the information and make a presentation to the Government, the Opposition often sees it as oppressive, so they oppose it on the ground that people can't take it. Which people can't take it?…the criminals?”, Charles asked.

“On the other side, the Government is pushing because they say the decent people need to be protected. When the police catch a man who kills nine people, the man has the best attorneys to find some holes in the presentation of the prosecutor that makes it illegal. So overall, the problem is quite simple: We have to decide that crime solutions must have one voice. When it is in Parliament there must be no division among parliamentarians, so that you send one signal. So the Church, the private sector, the politicians and the police must send out one signal to the criminals.

“Crime can only be solved when we speak with one voice against the gangs and criminals. The Church must play a big role because the members tell the parsons; the politicians know, because their supporters tell them. If the private sector, the police, the politician and the Church decide with one voice, then we have crime licked. But right now if we have mouth, we dumb, if we have ears, we deaf, if we have eyes, we did not see.

“There are many reasons for that. Fear is a major one in communities. The next one is politics. They are your people, if you go against them you will lose support, and in the church the parson not talking, because members tell him. All of that has to get rid of. We have to take a stand that if we don't cooperate we all will go,” the veteran politician said.

Charles Sr also called for more respect to be shown to police personnel at the heart of fighting criminals, as they often come under immense pressure while sacrificing their own lives and those of their families.

“The police is a special person. When you are in your bed sleeping with your wife and children, he is circling you, protecting you, leaving his wife and children at home. What respect are we giving to the police? You cannot pay a policeman, because his life is threatened every time he puts on that uniform in Jamaica today, and he is a target.

“I am well aware that in politics you have some dirty ones, in the police force you have some dirty ones, in the Church you have some rapists and in the private sector it's no different. So all the elements have weak spots but we can't allow the weak spots to destroy the strong spots. There is no perfect system,” Charles argued.

“I hear a lawyer say even when he knows that the man committed the murder he has to defend him and he has to find weak spots to let him go back out free.

“Can we solve the crime as it is? No, because we have too many voices opposing.There are 400 gangs with one voice – they rob, make money, and kill. The anti-gang has so many voices. I have been advised that the gangs have executives, sitting in a room watching the police with drones. They know when the police drive out, sometimes where they are going. Apart from the fact that some of the police are advising them, some of the politiciaans are advising them, and I have no doubt that other people are advising them too.

“Crime is now a job and several benefit from crime. It's not only mothers, girlfriends and wives washing out the blood from clothes anymore when the man come in. Let us look at politicians, I know every man in my constituency who is a gunman, and any politician who tells you he doesn't know the gunmen in his constituency is lying… he shouldn't be a politician. Anywhere you live, people tell you who are firing the guns. The pastors know, because the members tell you who firing the guns,” Charles stated.

Charles also took at jab at the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) which he suggested sometimes goes overboard in putting police personnel under pressure.

“I am not against INDECOM, but if we discover that INDECOM is a repellent to the police taking a chance to bring in the criminals then we have to do something about INDECOM.

“A policeman told me he is not taking any chance with INDECOM over his head, because him going lose him work, his family going to be disgraced, and he is going to be home for three years before he gets freed. It doesn't make sense,” Charles said.


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