A bankruptcy of leadership on crime

Mr Andrew Holness, leader of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and Mr Mark Golding, president of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), don't substantially disagree on how to fight crime, as can be seen from statements they made over the weekend.

"Our position on crime, violence, and the delivery of justice for our people remains rooted in our vision of social transformation," Mr Golding told the public session of his party's 85th annual conference on Sunday.

"We believe in a balanced approach, using both crime control as well as crime prevention measures. A balanced approach is essential to social harmony and crime reduction. A more cohesive society is essential to reducing discontent and violence in society," he added.

For his part, Mr Holness said: "The Government will continue investing in and supporting crime prevention and social intervention strategies that focus on reducing violence as a feature of the society.

"The next phase of the Government's crime-fighting strategy is to treat with the centre of the problem… and the centre of the problem is the person. So we have to, now, invest heavily in our social support, our psychological and emotional support," he said Friday on tour with Project STAR in downtown Kingston

"We have to invest heavily in our crime prevention, in our youth involvement, community involvement," he declared.

Neither Mr Golding nor Mr Holness are saying anything we have not heard before. In fact, if the two gentlemen were to exchange places they would be uttering the same phrases and spouting the same solutions.

What they are not doing, however, is agreeing to collaborate in a joint campaign to mobilise the Jamaican people to take the fight to the criminals, especially the gunmen, by massively supporting the security forces — without which we all know no progress will be made.

Given the fear of reprisal, Jamaicans will not feel comfortable to be the eyes and ears of the police to keep the criminals on the run, unless the two major political parties are working together to that one end.

Mr Golding, in his speech, said that "The main approach to reducing crime and violence is a mindset change that will guide the next PNP Government…" He offers no real ideas for change, merely regurgitating what many politicians — PNP and JLP — have said before him.

When he says: "We will focus on properly equipping our police and the justice system with the legislation, tools, technology, and human resources to carry out their work," we ask when has that not been done before?

Mr Golding puts it this way: "…As the country works to defeat the crime monster, additional systems to support conflict resolution, mental health resources, and an entity for the promotion of a peaceful and harmonious society are being considered for implementation."

So, in other words, neither leader has anything new to tell us about crime-fighting, which, in itself, is a scary prospect because it begs the question: Why can't they work together for the common good?

Let us pray and hope for the success of Project STAR, the social and economic transformation initiative created by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in partnership with the police to achieve change through targeted interventions in under-resourced areas of Jamaica.

It's what we have.

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