Columns

ZOSO naysayers fear its success

Stephen
Edwards

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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Jamaicans have endured many unsuccessful anti-crime initiatives in the past, which have been largely characterised by the use of brute force and the wonton abuse of human rights. However, initial reports from residents of Mount Salem, St James, where the first zone of special operations was declared, revealed that Jamaica's security forces are taking care to prevent human rights abuses and are performing their duties in a professional manner.

This change is a breath of fresh air that is clearly due to the additional training and preparation that was done before the operations began. This, by itself, is a tremendous success for which the security forces should be commended.

Of course, there is a small minority of naysayers who have tried to poke holes in every aspect of the zones of special operations, even before it started. First there was criticism about the Bill being rushed, which was followed by calls to rush the naming of the zones. There was idle talk that it won't solve Jamaica's crime problem, followed by suggestions that it is a critical part of the crime fighting strategy. Then there was criticism that not enough information was being given to the public, which was followed by shouts that too much information is being given to the public. The chaotic nature of the criticisms suggests that the few naysayers that exist are simply fearful that the zones of special operations will be successful.

Recent headlines are filled with news of positive things that are happening in Jamaica, which include:

1. &empmargin;More Jamaicans are now employed than any other time in history ( Jamaica Information Service, Wednesday, August 16, 2017)

2. &empmargin;Jamaica recorded a budget surplus after many years of deficit ( Jamaica Observer, Wednesday, August 30, 2017)

3. &empmargin;Massive increases in Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education benefits for the poor and vulnerable ( Jamaica Information Service, Thursday, June 29, 2017)

4. &empmargin;Net International Reserves are at the highest they have ever been since 2002 ( Jamaica Observer, Thursday, May 11, 2017)

5. &empmargin;The Jamaican dollar is stable for the first time in decades

6. &empmargin;Jamaica Public Service customers to see two per cent drop in bills — OUR ( Observer, Tuesday, September 5, 2017)

7. &empmargin;Decreases in aggravated assault (-15 per cent), break-ins (-8 per cent), larceny (-32 per cent), rape (-17 per cent), and robbery (-26 per cent)

Now that the facts are on the table, it is clear that the country is moving in the right direction. This forms the basis of the reason the naysayers are so fearful of the success of the zone of special operations programme. If the initiative succeeds in making a major impact on the murder rate they will be left with little or no material to preach doom and gloom upon the nation with. How tormenting that must be for them.

It would be remiss of me to see any of my fellow citizens in such distress — as misguided as they may be — and not offer assistance. I therefore offer some suggestions of complaints that they can make once the country's murder rate plummets:

1. Too many children will be showing disregard for the Noise Abatement Act as they play throughout the night.

2. The Gun Court will have to close since it won't have enough cases to try.

3. The funeral home business will decline.

4. Land values in inner-city communities will skyrocket as people will be willing to live, work and play there.

5. Prices for goods will fall rapidly since businesses will pay less for security.

The zone of special operations initiative is the best tool that the country has at its disposal to find and seize the illegal guns that are used in the majority of murders and shootings. It is important that all Jamaicans band together and support this effort so that Jamaica can unleash its true potential for prosperity.

Stephen R P Edwards is the president of Generation 2000 (G2K). He is a civil engineer and former university lecturer. Send comments to the Observer or g2kpresident@gmail.com.

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