Slick police expo, but a word of caution: PR won't solve crime
Police Commissioner, Major General Anthony Anderson.

We think it is obvious that, in this space, we are big supporters of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), warts and all, because as criminals run rampant across the country, maiming and killing at will, it remains our first and last line of defence.

The politicians, bedevilled by their blemished history with criminals, are impotent to do what is necessary — take crime out of the partisan arena and unite the country to fight this monster that is holding us back.

Imagine Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding walking the length and breadth of Jamaica, mobilising the populace to work hand in glove with the JCF and making sure the criminals have nowhere to hide. What a gift that would be in our 61st year of Independence and for the coming Republic.

But it will not happen.

For this reason, we wish to issue a word of caution to those who organised what seemed to have been a well-thought-out and executed four-day event, titled 'Transformations 2023: People, Quality and Technology Expo', last weekend at the National Arena in St Andrew.

The expo showcased the JCF's quality management systems and application of technology to analyse evidence and solve crime. Patrons saw JamaicaEye in operation; police use of drones; electronic ticketing, body cameras; the use of facial recognition technology in real time; live demonstrations of search and rescue; and a police dog's recovery of drugs and firearms.

While the expo humanised the police force and its execution would have lifted morale — necessary as all that is — the JCF must never lose sight of the fact that public relations by itself will not solve crime.

Indeed, as a country we are bombarded with visually and verbally attractive messages by both corporate and public entities, as if PR can replace hard work, creative ideas, and excellent customer service.

To make our point, one needs just contrast the successful staging of the JCF expo with the coincidence of news in yesterday's edition that the number of children killed across the island since the start of this year has moved to nine.

This is more than half the number of children murdered across Jamaica in 2022, with fewer than five months gone in the year. A further 15 children — 12 boys and three girls — were left nursing gunshot wounds between January 1 and May 6 this year. What a blot upon this nation!

Having said that, we do not decry the staging of the expo. If it lifts the profile of the force and helps to stir confidence in its operations; that is a good thing. Indeed, congratulations are in order. The embattled JCF needs every assistance it can get.

But all that will come to nought if crime, especially murders, continues to trend upwards, if the clear-up rate is not dramatically improved, and if Jamaicans at home and abroad feel unsafe to move about, set up businesses, or seek entertainment at night.

It is critical to remind the population that keeping Jamaica safe is not the work of the police force alone. Nowhere is the police successful without citizens doing their part in providing information on the movement and whereabouts of criminals.

Let's get to work.

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