Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Editorial: No time to celebrate, JCF

Published:Saturday | August 8, 2015 | 8:00 AM

Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are celebrating the fact that they have apprehended and charged nearly 300 murder suspects since the start of 2015.

Impressive figures, one is likely to think on hearing those statistics, but when one takes a closer look at the latest crime figures, alarmingly, there have been roughly 696 murders of men, women and children so far this year.

This means there could be as many as 300 murder suspects running amok across the length and breadth of this, our small island paradise.

Truthfully, there is really no time to celebrate in the midst of these damning figures that compel our security forces to work even harder to take these criminals off the streets and place them before the courts so they can be suitably punished for their crimes. We need to see a measurable reduction in murders.

This daily drumbeat of death in our country is obviously playing on the mind of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who, in his Independence Day message, called on Jamaicans to "urgently join forces against the crime and violence which stalk our land. Believe that we shall prevail and overcome. Let us end the culture of silence and help bring perpetrators to justice."

As we acknowledge that 40 children have been among those murdered so far this year, we stand with Sir Patrick in calling for better protection for our children when he said, "Let us believe together that we can make them safe and secure in our homes, streets and communities where they, the nation's future, will flourish. Every member of every community must assume this responsibility right now."

 

adult development compromised

 

Far too many children in our country have either experienced or been exposed to violence. This does not augur well for their development into adulthood. We must find strategies to limit their exposure to these negative experiences.

Several initiatives have been announced by the police, including the increased use of CCTV, however, there appears to be a huge gap between announcement and implementation. If it is believed that the presence of these cameras will deter criminals, the resources must be found to have them installed.

We also believe that more boots on the ground will have an impact on crime. Perhaps the JCF needs to increase the number of police personnel patrolling the streets, especially in traditional high-crime areas.

Which brings us to the question: What innovative policing methods have been introduced in Jamaica in, say, the last decade? In this age of the Internet, how, for example, have the police increased their accessibility via social media so that crimes can be easily reported?

If we continue to apply the same prescriptions that have been tried unsuccessfully over many years, we cannot expect different results in an effort to combat crime. Jamaicans are slowly losing faith in the ability of the police and the justice system to address the persistent crime problem.

Violence is unacceptably high in Jamaica, and this phenomenon should be treated as a crisis since this is a major barrier standing between this country and its economic independence.