Police chief tells diaspora headlines paint bigger monster about crime

Police chief tells diaspora headlines paint bigger monster about crime

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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POLICE Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson has attempted to calm the jitters of members of the Jamaica Diaspora who say they fear returning to the island because of the gruesome murders reported here, insisting that media portrayals have painted a bigger monster than is the case.

“If all your information comes from headlines then you will be scared; we have some particularly sensational headlines sometimes that don't fully explain or put context to what is happening,” the police commissioner told members of the Jamaica Diaspora during a virtual Citizen Safety Town Hall this week.

The police commissioner said in many instances the story that is left untold is who is behind the crimes committed and who are the individuals affected.

“A recent study and analysis of just under 400 homicides that took place noted that approximately 78 per cent of these homicides were of gang members or gang affiliates or the families of gang members. So a huge portion of this probably around 900 [of the just over 1,000 murders being seen yearly] are done by gangs on gangs or gang affiliates,” he pointed out.

“So there is a process to deal with the gang related and there is another process to deal with the interpersonal nature where families are killing each other and then there is a small part of this that relates to people going about their business and getting robbed and killed, but that is not by any means the highest proportion [of killings],” the police commissioner said.

“You could easily have a headline that says 'Four-year-old killed'; luckily we jumped ahead with the information on that one, or nobody [would have said she was] killed by uncle,” he said, referencing the recent slaying of four-year-old Chloe Brown in a predawn gun attack that left her father injured.

“We charged about 500 people for murders last year; sensational headlines don't fully explain or put [into] context. [For example], a person comes home and was building a house and was killed, but nobody says it was intimate partner violence. Without context it creates a lot of fear and in our victimisation survey that was done there has always been this big gap between people's personal experience and how they perceived, and we have to close that gap. It is more the fear of it than the actual thing that is driving our narrative,” the police commissioner stated.

For 2020 there were 1,323 murders, compared to 1,339 in 2019. Murders, dating back to around 2001, have hovered above the 1,000 mark except for 2003 when it dipped just below a thousand at 976.

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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