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Editorial: Is flooding streets with cops the fix?

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The top brass of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is promising to do for Christmas what they have not been able to do all year round: keep Jamaicans safe.

They plan to do this by deploying 700 additional police personnel across the island. How predictable! And is the JCF's crime-fighting strategy anchored on the premise that flooding the streets with personnel will create the desired deterrent to criminals who are bent on causing mayhem in our communities?

While we do not expect the police to reveal all their plans, we sincerely hope that they do have a comprehensive strategy that is more sophisticated than merely reassigning desk officers and recruits to street beats.

Pretty much the same saturation-patrol strategy is employed year after year. Presumably, these campaigns are assessed to determine how successful they were and whether they ought to be repeated in exact manner. Too often we stick to tried-and-true methods without evaluating whether they worked well and offered the desired results.

Senior police officers called a press conference on Thursday to lay out their crime-fighting strategies for the Christmas season when there is usually an upsurge in shopping, thereby presenting the potential for criminals to fleece shoppers and business operators alike.

 

BEYOND HOLIDAY TACTICS

The fact is that people want to feel safe in public places at all times, and in today's world, saturated with terrorists who aim to kill and be killed, many are seeking the assurance that as a modern police force, the JCF is more focused on crime prevention rather than reacting to the commission of crime.

At Thursday's press conference, the officers warned individuals and businesses to exercise care by looking out for fraudsters who may attempt to use a variety of methods, including the Internet, to bilk them of cash and goods. Over the past two years, the police say more than J$500 million have got into the hands of fraudsters using various deceptive methods.

By their own numbers, the police say fraud is up as they urge householders to be on the lookout for criminals posing as employees of utility companies who may seek to gain access to their homes, ostensibly to install energy-saving equipment. There are communities with elderly residents that have become targets of these criminals, and special attention needs to be given by the police to these vulnerable areas.

Education of the population has to be an integral part of the crime-fighting programme. However, the JCF should do more than recommend short-lived holiday tactics. Instead, they need to provide crime-prevention tips throughout the year so that important dos and don'ts become ingrained in people's consciousness, and they are, therefore, encouraged to adopt better self-protection habits.

What was absent from the utterances made at Thursday's press conference were assurances that business operators would also be brought along in the prevention, awareness and education aspects of the anti-crime strategy.

While the JCF may consider it necessary to put citizens on their guard in this busy Christmas shopping season, it also needs to implement concrete enforcement plans that will benefit the country all year round.