Lament…and then what?
When institutions like the Jamaica Constabulary Force fail to create the changes considered necessary by citizens to correct the deficiencies they perceive in their communities, a number of repeated responses on the part of the communities are seen.
Most noticeably is the ‘We want justice’ type demonstrations, with which we are all familiar. When nothing comes of that, there is usually passive resignation or withdrawal to activism and even to efforts to establish new leaders, as in the call for resignations of the commissioner of police and/or the portfolio minister.
These felt needs are products of a past-to-present thinking, evident in the cries calling for what existed in times past and a plea to go back to such a time.
It is quite clear that a choice to function on the basis of felt needs is powerless in addressing Jamaica’s social and economic issues and will lead to stymied community development, irrespective of the geographical location. Felt needs must be replaced by the concept of anticipatory needs, which identifies what needs to be done in order to move towards a specified future, a present-to-future orientation.
What is the specified future that we seek as Jamaicans? It is absolutely not what we have been seeing and hearing in the news these past weeks. What must be our response as citizens in moving forward? It is absolutely not criticising the work of the police, but it must be each of us finding a way to support and partner with the police in their investigative work.
The Code of Conduct for Police-Citizen Relations in Jamaica, as developed by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Inner-city Development Committee, et al, states that: “…As a citizen, you have a duty to assist the police in the apprehension of an accused or wanted person. If through your own actions, conduct, or behaviour you do not show respect for other citizens, the security forces, and the laws governing the country — whether within or outside your community — some of these rights may be taken away from you, by the law. This means that you may be liable to prosecution and conviction leading to imprisonment or you may be sued…”
On the morning of October 5 a dear friend was killed in a hit-and-run on Hagley Park Road, in the vicinity of the Hagley Park Health Centre and Budget Supplies Limited. To date, the citizen operating the vehicle has not been apprehended by the police or taken in by the people who know who he or she is. While we are quick at times to say the police are not doing their job, recent work by the police in the apprehension of criminals involved in the kidnapping and murder of a young mother and her baby is obvious testament that our police are equipped and well able to do their job, aided and supported by well-thinking and caring citizens who are willing to speak what they know.
I believe the time is now for every Jamaican to actively participate in doing what must be done to move towards this ideal future. I agree with the Church in declaring days of fasting and praying, and it is a fact that when the true church prays and seeks the Lord, He delivers.
We have heard it said that the Church is silent on some subjects, and I have wondered often if this silence could be that there are amongt us folks who have intimate knowledge of perpetrators of crime and violence in the various communities and have opted to remain silent. After all, they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.
As I mourn the death of my friend, I am comforted that her soul is at rest, and with that I can sit quietly in my prayer closet knowing it is well. But for the sake of my children and grandchildren and this Jamaica land, I will not be silent.
I implore every well-thinking Jamaican to take a stand today for righteousness, holiness, and truth.
Ann Marie Brown