Editorial | Whatever it takes
We have returned to the topic of crime and violence partly in reaction to the news out of the nation's Parliament that the use of drone aircraft as a crime-fighting tool has been stalled. Safety is a critical component of a vibrant nation, and currently, the crime situation in Kingston, Montego Bay and elsewhere in the country is being described by many as dire.
To ensure public safety and save the country from anarchy, the Government must find the resources to employ various technologies and access available criminal-justice tools in the fight against crime. It cannot be business as usual.
Whatever laws that must be enacted and/or amended, now is the time to tackle them, Government and Opposition, in step. For example, do our firearm-related laws require strengthening to severely mete out the appropriate punishment to users and importers of these weapons?
And how is it that the police have never been able to arrest significant exporters of firearms and ammunition? What can be done to shut down the importers of these instruments of death?
On the matter of using social media to solve crime, it was done effectively in one recent memorable case where cell phone messages were retrieved and played back for the jury. However, should the police be doing more of this type of investigation and monitoring to connect the dots between criminals and the persons with whom they communicate on social websites? Cell phones retain a history of browsing habits, calls made, messages sent, and other key information. Modern police forces are changing with the times and are training and equipping police personnel with smartphones, other electronic devices, and the requisite software as part of their crime-fighting toolkit.
Take the matter of DNA evidence legislation that was approved by Parliament in 2011. It was announced two years ago that the Forensic Laboratory and the Legal Medicine Unit were to become the Institute of Forensic Science as a measure to reduce crime and corruption and boost the investigative capability of law-enforcement agents. How much is that institute helping in identifying criminals? Are law-enforcement personnel making the best use of this technology to solve crime? Is there general satisfaction with the speed with which testing is done?
The answers to these questions can help determine whether optimal use is being made of this institute, which has been the recipient of high-tech donations.
Big-city police forces are keeping step with technology from the drones in the sky to robot cameras as they try to beat the criminals at every turn. And even if they are not successful in preventing crime, they usually solve cases quite speedily with the aid of technology.
And in preparing for court, police personnel can use sophisticated, cutting-edge technology to collect evidence and map out crime scenes and recreate scenarios so they can be presented to a jury, even if the case takes years to be tried.
Those who have the nation's security in their hands must sense the frustration and despair among people. Parents whose children are being killed for a cell phone and relatives of seniors who are being slaughtered are calling for justice and safer neighbourhoods. How many more will die at the hands of marauding criminals tomorrow or the day after?
An alarming number of our children are being exposed to unprecedented savagery in their homes, neighbourhoods, schools, and on the streets. Whether they be victims or witnesses, such encounters are likely to be traumatic for them and may scar their young lives. This daily bombardment and exposure to violence is associated with many negatives such as depression, vengeance, low performance, and substance abuse.
We are appealing to the powers that be to make bold decisions and find the resources to employ appropriate 21st-Century technologies to fight crime.