On the road to a safer JamaicaThursday, May 13, 2021
We have seen how lasting changes in societies have primarily happened either as a result of a radical shift or due to systemic changes which happens slowly and cautiously. What is known, however, is that change must be proactive and strategic, no matter the method of implementation — radical or slowly and cautiously.
Jamaica has struggled with the issue of crime for decades. There have been crime plans, there have been special squads, and there have been complacency masked by speeches and pronouncements. Nothing has been the silver bullet expected or needed.
Human beings have a need for instant gratification which includes seeing results quickly. Given the number of pronouncements Jamaicans have heard over the last few decades, it is no wonder we get concerned when not only are things happening at what seems like a snail's pace but announcements are primarily limited to organisational matters.
To make matters triply worse, there is an ongoing soundtrack telling us there does not exist a crime plan. The psychology of what we have been 'trained' to expect, and the reality of what is needed, have not been converging.
As a people, some amongst us have been feeling distraught and upset that another Government was simply giving platitudes and doing anything substantial about the wave of crime in this beautiful, potential-rich nation in the Caribbean Sea.
A few months ago small signs were being noticed and posted about on social media and mentioned on talk shows. Reactions ranged from hesitant hope to bold claims of change. The jaded refused to hope as there is a refusal to be disappointed once again. The political started a slight jig. Those who saw but hoped it was not true — as it did not fit the narrative of the soundtrack — remained quiet on the signs and buckled down on the narrative that failure was once again upon us in the crime department.
It is now the month of May in the year 2021 and there has been much investment in the hardware and software of crime fighting in the country. More resources and time are being invested in training police officers and equipping them with the requisite tools of the trade. Police stations have been and continue to be upgraded, new faces to the force have been recruited and retained, all this in what organisational development specialists may say is good in a relatively short period of time, but to regular citizens, it took a mighty long time.
The clearing seems to be ahead; there is hope. Many among even the jaded are no longer just holding their breaths but, instead, are reservedly looking with hope. Whatever our political leaning, or our fear of celebrating early, this is where we should don the black, green, and gold and cheer on our police officers who have come a far way in getting the guns and the bad men, all while learning to do things differently.
Are we there yet? No, we are not.
Do we seem to be on the right road? I would venture a yes.
Not yet time to dance, but certainly time to feel as though we can and will do this.
There is hope that we will go back to feeling safe and assured in our communities and the wider society. Maybe not today, but certainly soon.
Thank you to the men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, we salute you and the risks you take and the organisational cultural changes you are embracing to make Jamaica safer.
Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is a senator and development consultant with a focus on political inclusion, governance, gender, and Diaspora affairs. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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