Columns

We are a national security nightmare

Glennn
Tucker

Monday, February 05, 2018

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For the past few weeks, I have been trying — without success — to convince my friend, David, that we are not likely to see any significant reduction in crime in the foreseeable future. I have given him factual reasons for my position, but I suspect he thinks that I am guilty of embellishment. I am patient with my friend because he always thinks like an engineer. And, I suspect, that's because he is. I will not give these reasons now. But I will limit myself to two recent events to make my case.

At the start of the year word came that there was a major crisis on the “airport road”. It seems that partygoers blocked the road with their cars to attend a party nearby. The result was that travellers and flights were severely affected as people with their luggage could not get to the airport.

Now, forget for a moment about details and dates of permits. The first thing that comes to mind is that this country is now awash with individuals who have the cash to acquire BMWs, breast augmentations, and Brazilian hair. But a minute with many of them reveal that they are just refugees of the hoi polloi, plebs — no class. The first sign that one has no class is the total disregard for the welfare of others — like the boorish hoons who saw nothing wrong with blocking the only access to an international airport to get a little closer to their party. But this comes as no surprise to me as I have long ago asserted that taxi and bus drivers aren't the only unmanageable groups in our society.

The most significant aspect of this development is the fact that there exists a well-staffed police station within spitting distance on both sides of this disgraceful demonstration of selfishness. And they were unable to deal with this situation. How many drivers were prosecuted? How many cars were towed away? Or is this too much for our police to handle?

There is, currently, a trial in progress in one of our courts. Evidence given tells of two accused policemen who were actually members of a gang that has so far murdered citizens and robbed about $400 million. One of these policemen actually participated in meetings convened to deal with this gang. He would then report plans to his gang resulting in the death of at least one informant and several failed initiatives to fight crime in St James and its environs. Further information revealed that these policemen would patrol areas and do what was necessary to guarantee successful robberies.

Incredibly, the problem many Jamaicans are having this morning is that the minister of national security “dissed' the commissioner of police and also “interfered” in police operations. So I take it that the minister should not be upset and embarrassed that this lot — the same one holding the country to ransom for more pay — can't prevent hooligans from causing chaos at our airport. And, in the face of almost daily calls for his removal because of his 'failure' to reduce crime, when he knows his police force has gang members in sensitive positions, he should resist the temptation to look more closely at their operations?

The greatest hypocrisy in all this is that the loudest calls for the minister's removal comes from Her Majesty's loyal Opposition, which until recently formed the Government and — had they been doing their jobs — would be aware of these glaring weaknesses in the police force. The Opposition seems to be devoting a lot of time these days going around the country pushing groups like the police to pressure the Government for more pay. Again, fully aware of the reasons this would be difficult at this time. It would seem to me that the Opposition People's National Party runs the risk of alienation by the people and many years in the political wilderness if it does not abandon the obstructionist whining and start providing credible alternatives. All well-thinking Jamaicans want a strong, vibrant, relevant PNP.

I must confess to my own secret annoyance with National Security Minister Robert “Bobby” Montague. I really wish he would expel the harsh criticism — colourful language even — I know must be on the tip of his lips! And, perhaps even collect some stones and beer bottles and chase out some of his well-paid senior officials and the buildings they occupy. I could help. Perhaps this would wake them and many other Jamaicans to the seriousness of our reality.

So many of us are wearing our biases on our belt buckles. There are many who still refuse to recognise that the police force contains individuals who are dangerous — not only to citizens — but to their own colleagues in the force. They can't do the things they are there to do properly, partly because they are busy doing things they should not be doing so well. How can the same organisation fight and facilitate organised crime at the same time? And we expect the minister to keep his distance while the country is burning? The US Department of State has just issued another level two travel advisory to its citizens warning them about crime in Jamaica. So, the unmanageable is expected to protect us from the ungovernable. And the minister must — from a distance — make this work. Does this make sense?

Glenn Tucker is an educator and a sociologist. Send comments to the Observer or glenntucker2011@gmail.com.

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