Gordon Robinson | Less talk, more money!
By now, it should've dawned on impatient, young Jamaicans that giving our flawed police force powers to abrogate citizens' hard-earned constitutional rights won't address Jamaica's crime problem except to compound it.
By now, calm, reflective thought should've resulted in the realisation that violent crime didn't sneak up on us during the past five years, nor does it stem from poverty.
- has its roots in social decay and greed, NOT poverty;
- is an attraction to idle hands without opportunity; and
- thrives in societies plagued by petty corruption and policed by incompetent, corrupt and underequipped constabularies.
There's your comprehensive crime primer in a nutshell. If states of emergency can correct 40 years of social decay; if abrogating constitutional rights can provide jobs for idle hands; if more police patrols can cure petty corruption or change the hearts and minds of police who shoot wildly into occupied taxis, abuse women being arrested and participate actively in lotto scams, there's your remedy. Let's cure crime today!
But if you look into your heart and accept that these knee-jerk reactions to dog-hearted crime only worsen the crisis, you must force yourself to apply cerebral solutions to seemingly intractable problems, no matter how frightening they may be. First and foremost, if crime is to yield, governments must acknowledge, accept and commit to the necessity to multiply Jamaica's annual national security budget for the next 10 years. Less empty boasting [like the national security minister's prediction "lawlessness will soon come to an end" (seriously?)]; more cash! Minister, it takes CASH, not bag a mout', to care. There'll be no 'austerity' cure.
At the beginning, police need modern computers at every parish centre, then every police station. Computers should be linked to CCTVs islandwide AND have access to a comprehensive fingerprint data base. Fingerprints should become a routine requirement to obtain TRN, driver's licence, national identity card, etc. For God's sake, I had to give my fingerprints to renew my racehorse owner's permit! Police personnel must receive intensive training in the operation of these modern crime-fighting tools; in thinking (especially laterally); and paid accordingly.
Where's the money? Prioritisation:
Close down Jamaica's unnecessary army. Who are we expecting to invade? Lime Cay? An army only results in highly trained killers lounging around getting drunk, dissatisfied and frustrated at not utilising their training. This rankles over time until soldiers are unleashed to prey upon fellow citizens, like Tivoli 2010;
Close down useless ministries like Gender Affairs; Tourism; Justice (an unconstitutional ministry in my opinion) and Local Government. Merge others (like Youth/Sports with Education)?
Stop pussyfooting around. Bring public-sector wage bill to nine per cent of GDP?
Abolish the monarchy/governor general; sell King's House to NHT to build low-cost housing for nurses/teachers/junior doctors/police. Use savings/purchase price to help fund a proper police force?
Stop with political commissions of enquiry already! The tragic waste of funds on the Tivoli enquiry would be more starkly seen if we had a professional police force who should've investigated that atrocity?
Put an end to non-investment-related tax waivers. My MP must pay for his/her car like I do.
Along with a modern, upgraded police force comes the duty to properly educate the next generation and to focus on good parenting so children learn the social skills they need to avoid confrontation. Chess, bridge, music and dominoes should be a must in every secondary school. We must produce multidimensional graduates with the tools to defeat stress. Education systems must identify individual skill sets and provide specialised training for those individuals. Police liaisons must be assigned to every school. Children must learn that police are their friends.
It's time. We must dismantle every garrison. Never again must Jamaica be scarred by politically partisan housing policy. Mass murderers should have no hiding place.
All Jamaican lay citizens should be disarmed. Can't go to bird shooting this year? Tough titty! Next year, we'll give birds rifles. See how anxious you are to visit bird bush then. Losing that extra swagger a gun in your waist produces? Poor baby. Politicians are quick to propose interference with our right to liberty, yet won't consider giving up their guns.
Space doesn't permit every crime solution to be listed, but we MUST begin by learning there are NO short-term answers. If we don't start long-term strategies NOW, we may as well pack it all in; migrate to Europe; and make friends with their suicide bombers.
Peace and love.
ps: I apologise to parents of children with Rett syndrome who I seem to have offended on Sunday with my use of the disease to paint a word picture. No disrespect was intended.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.