Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Ronald Mason | Time for drastic action

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM

There is a vigorous debate taking place across the country. It is a debate necessitated by the spate of murders and the need to suppress crime at the expense of civil liberties and human rights. There have been 41 reported murders up to January 12. Comparatively, there were 23 murders up to January 11, 2016. The trend is worrying, as in 2015 we had 1,005 murders for the year. In 2016, we had 1,350 murders. These are the reported figures. One could question the accuracy of these reports.

The factors to be dealt with in the suppression of murder would include, but not limited to:

1. Acknowledgement that illegal guns are in abundance.

2. The JCF is understaffed, underpaid, corrupt and lacks the confidence of the population.

3. The criminally inclined have very little to fear in terms of being caught much less being punished.

4. The criminals have successfully made the mantra -'informa fi dead', a living, breathing part of our daily existence.

5. The criminals are harboured by persons with an interest in the financial rewards from the proceeds of crime. The physical geography and the informal squatter settlements inclusive of no street names, no street lights, no house numbers and the wide spread use of aliases and pet names all facilitate criminal intent.

6. Domestic violence is accepted in some aspects of our culture. 'Him luv me, that is why him beat me'.

All attempts to dent the crime wave must of necessity impose pain and fear on some sections of the population. Punishment, after due process, must be harsh. And human rights must be de-emphasised to provide greater community safety. The practice of burying firearm underground and in roofs is a known feature of the Jamaican criminal enterprise. There is technology in ground penetration radar that can locate the guns that have been buried and hidden from the naked eye. However, to use this you must invade the borders of private spaces. The element of surprise in not knowing who has the technology negates seeking a warrant. Premises will be invaded. Restriction on freedom of movement and assembly will be applicable. Rights will be curtailed.




Police dogs can be and are trained to sniff for distinctive features found with firearm; even where attempts are made to wrap or bury the guns in fluids. Cuba has indicated a willingness to send 40 dogs to Jamaica. Imagine these dogs being deployed with road blocks set up by the police in a random manner to search every car: emphasis on every car in all locations - uptown, round town, downtown, and rural. Tackle all criminal activities. Make the person with illegal, offensive weapons and lost weapons experience fear. Again, this will require the civil liberties of the public to be infringed. There will be no presumed right to privacy. Do we want to get rid of crime?

We need a new commissioner who is external to the force. The JCF must earn and gain the trust and confidence of the society. If we seek to implement a new approach to law enforcement with this JCF, it will fail. An officer must be capable of telling an uptown father that his son will not be released except by the legal process. Un-attached black youth must see the same treatment being handed out to all, without fear or favour.

When the USA decided to invade Iraq it was made known that the result would unleash shock and awe. Jamaica needs drastic action, not after we have put in the social services to cuddle them and keep all wrapped and warm while the society dies.

Forty one persons killed in the first 12 days of 2017. In comparison, 23 were killed in the first 10 days of 2016. How long? Sending a police car to a shooting scene is after the event. Time to switch to the 'prevent' stance. Use the technology. Publish the top 10 most wanted for each of our three counties on a regular basis. Offer rewards in the millions of dollars so that the persons at the top will be caught. The $30,000 - $100,000 reward is useless. How about a specially trained and equipped squad who earn extra money from being hunters of these persons of interest? Pay the bounty offered if they are successful in bringing in the persons.

Drastic times require drastic measures and the temporary loss of some civil liberties.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to and