Collaboration is the key!


Collaboration is the key!

Blanket of diversion and stagnation hindering crime fight

BY David Abrikian

Monday, April 15, 2019

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In retrospect, the episode of the recent states of emergency (SOEs) brings to mind certain things. Firstly, it seems that there was a touch of irresponsibility in the way the Opposition went about withdrawing their support for the SOEs' extension. If they had published their objections in the media and stated their intended action if these were not addressed, allowing all and sundry to become aware of same, this would have put the ball firmly in the Government's half. Or if they had gone to court to challenge the constitutionality and ethics of the way the SOE was being implemented this would have had the same effect. The way it was done, however, leads the Opposition wide open to the criticism of not really caring about the crime level or of not wanting the Government to bring it under control.

But it is also true that the Government could have responded more definitively to the protests and concerns levelled at it by the Opposition. It could have either made it very clear to the public what these concerns were, and why the concerns were invalid, both constitutionally and ethically, or if the concerns were in fact valid, seen to it that that they were addressed, and publicised their actions in this regard as well.

But these considerations are now only hindsight and water under the bridge. The important thing is what happens at this point.

The Opposition continues to make overtures to the Government for meetings and dialogue and, regardless of what happened before, it is now up to the Government to respond accordingly. Further, it appears to be the case that if the Government does respond positively and holds an ongoing series of meetings with the Opposition, focused only on the crime scene and its solution, then it, the Government, would have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Historically, all the crime solution initiatives attempted by one side only have all failed over time. It has become clear that both sides need to work at it together. It is too risky to try it alone, and it is extremely unlikely to be sustainably successful.

Also, the Government will be able to claim, to its credit, that it is the first time any Government has ever attempted a collaborative approach. Further, a collaborative approach will send a strong message throughout Jamaica.

And, again, any new initiative, whether it be SOE, crime enhancement plan, or any other, will need support from both sides for sustainability. Yet, again, if out of this collaborative approach there is success, both sides will gain politically, but the Government will gain more by far — tantamount to a win-little, win-big situation.

But a genuine collaborative approach on both sides will be needed in order to unravel all the nuances and idiosyncrasies — much too complicated and intricate for a little country like Jamaica — that will be required for the crime to be brought under control.

It is an unnecessary tautology to say that political considerations are at play on both sides, but it is also possible for both sides to get below that blanket of diversion and stagnation and focus on the real concern.

If the two groups meet, and are really serious, there is no reason most gang activity could not be addressed in, say, two years, and in four years or so, Jamaica could be one of the most peaceful countries in the world which, incidentally, was where we were in 1962.

Among a number of other things, what is needed is a tipping point in crime control, where the general public starts to feel confident that they can cooperate with the police without being betrayed, and where the gangs start to feel desperately insecure and intimidated in their operations due to the number of arrests and convictions being made.

A collaborative approach can achieve this. I can see no other way.

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