Who are the heroes and villains in Jamaica?
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) and Minister of Security Dr Horace Chang
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) and Minister of Security Dr Horace Chang

Dear Editor,

As a concerned citizen I have been tracking the developments in the media and the rhetoric coming out of many quarters about Jamaica's handling of national security, that is, the level of criminality and the criticisms laid at the feet of the Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson.

Both are highly accredited men in their respective fields who offered themselves to lead the charge to tackle the most challenging problem to date, crime fighting.

It is a known fact, and the research would provide enough evidence to confirm, that the Jamaican people have suffered at the hands of criminals for decades. The crime situation has been a perennial concern for many, from pre-Independence, albeit with varying factors being identified as the root cause at different points in our history. The outcome today has led to the advent and evolution of our criminal landscape and a convergence of many factors being identified as the root cause and motivation behind the growing number of gangs causing an explosion of violence.

The rationale for the escalation of these threats (in my mind) must be that few consequences accrue to those responsible. Without changing legislation, without changing resources, and without support from the public, some of whom are complicit and supportive of the gangs in their communities, the likelihood appears modest of overcoming gun-related crime anytime soon. While I welcome the passage of the firearms legislation in the lower house, it stands to reason that without the support of the public and in the absence of the right discussions, much will not change except ministers and commissioners.

Jamaica isn't alone in this war. Many countries all over the world, First World and otherwise, have been coping with their own crime problems. The difference, however, is that these countries have not been afraid to take bold steps to implement proportionate rules of engagement. The consequence must fit the crime and must fit the circumstances. Additionally, these countries have received large-scale support from their citizens and legislature to fight a common enemy, while in Jamaica we sanctify and protect the enemy at the expense of our hard-working and well-intentioned Government and security forces, with the legislature giving hopscotch support to policing.

The politicians call for enforcement in one breath, then not too much in another. They call for support to law enforcement, yet the level of spending on the police is not enough to combat the nature of the crime we are facing in Jamaica. The police need the requisite resources and support to do their work.

So who wins and who loses in these circumstances? Who is the hero and who is seen as the villain?

The widescale narrative is seemingly always to glorify and champion criminal behaviour (heroes), while the people protecting are condemned (villains). A trade-off for law and order for criminal patronage it would seem.

Facts and science have revealed that despite the best intentions of anyone, we cannot win in the war against crime and violence, if these forces are allowed to continue with impunity and support.

It is unfair to call for the resignation of the minister of national security and the commissioner of police, knowing all the forces working against them. And it is unfair to judge their performance on the level of violence which we have adopted over the years. Instead, judge their performance on the specific activities and objectives in their respective portfolios. No one can solve violence in the short term, and it surely cannot be solved overnight. Unless, as the former minister of national security has conceded, there is divine intervention. However, despite the high level of competence exhibited by both men, I don't think they have ever claimed to be omnipotent and all things to all men.

The real issue at hand is that there are too many security experts in Jamaica. Everyone has a lot to say, but offer no real solution. The most vocal and loudest ones seem to be the armchair experts, the ones who sit on their verandas and devise the most basic crime-fighting ideas. Ones that would perhaps be found in a 'Dummy's Guide to Crime Fighting 101' because they are out of touch with reality and have never been affected or know anyone affected by crime.

Rather than unjustly criticise the men, we need to be a force of change through our positive mindset and language. They are the lambs to be slaughtered; just like Jesus Christ was made to be crucified on the cross. And even when we know the difficulty, we still hold these two men accountable for the sins of others and given a basket to carry water.

The criminals will win when we fight the people who are meant to be doing good.

Concerned Jamaican

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