A non-partisan crime policy is the gift we need for the next 60 years
Hundreds of people are gathered at the Stuart Hall Auditorium at Clarendon College for the viewing and memorial service for Kemesha Wright and her four children. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

What might well be no more than a symbolic gesture or political gimmickry did not escape us at the heart-rending funeral service for the slain Clarendon mother, Ms Kemesha Wright, and her four children — Kimanda Smith, 15; Sharalee Smith, 12; Rafaella Smith, five; and Kishawn Henry Jr, 23 months old — on Sunday at Clarendon College auditorium.

Not only was the mournful event attended by politicians from the two major parties, some playing prominent roles witnessed by the large turnout, but Opposition Leader Mr Mark Golding was particularly conspicuous.

After making his remarks to the mourners who packed and overflowed the auditorium, the People's National Party (PNP) president turned to Prime Minister Mr Andrew Holness and, with an air of sincerity, assured him of the fullest cooperation of the Opposition in the fight against crime and violence.

It sounded good to hear Mr Golding offering his cooperation to the Government, especially at a time when it was a message that the throngs would have wanted to hear, but also as the nation is putting its best on show, as it celebrates 60 years of Independence.

Of course, we would dearly, nay desperately love to take Mr Golding's words at face value. And he may well be genuine. We in this space have never found him to be objectionable. Indeed, he has always come across as affable and his desire to serve his compatriots noble.

Then there was Mr Robert Nesta Morgan, the Member of Parliament for the area, who shared with the mourners his discussions with Ms Wright about getting her a farm work ticket to Canada. What a comfort that must be to the grieving family members.

We are only being cautious because of hard experience and a long history of political trickery and barefaced ginnalship that have got worse with each new generation of politicians who prefer fancy words and pretty talk over genuine action.

Take the example of the interminable fight against crime, notably murders. Despite numerous calls on the politicians to come together and unite the country to take on the criminals and gunmen, all we have to show are verbose press releases for which well connected parties are, no doubt, well paid.

It is more than obvious that the numerous crime-fighting programmes tried over many years have failed to stanch the murders.

Prime Minister Holness, in his contribution to the dirge, pointed to the many laws that are on the books to deter crime and violence; for example, the Firearms Act, the Bail Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Child Care and Family Protection Act.

He promised, with great conviction, that the laws have been or are being reviewed to be more effective against crime and violence. But what do we have to show for all that? Upwards of 1,200 murders a year.

In this Diamond Jubilee year it would be more than a gift if our politicians could agree, difficult as it is, to take crime-fighting out of the arena of partisanship and deal with it as a national imperative as we look forward to the next 60 years.

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