Editorial | What’s next, Minister Montague?
The deployment of soldiers to boost crime-fighting efforts in western Jamaica has apparently flopped. Killings have continued in several communities. It is clear that traditional, predictive methods being followed by the security forces are not working to stem murders and other criminal activity.
So what's next, National Security Minister Robert Montague? There has to be some smart, innovative moves to beat back this scourge. We want to believe that this Government does have a sweeping package of anti-crime measures to stem crime and restore order in the society. If it exists, it's high time to share this plan with the rest of the country.
Citizens across Jamaica are anxious to hear about the Government's law-and-order initiatives. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has been in office for nearly a year, enough time to formulate a plan that will give comfort to those who are living in fear of becoming the next victim.
People are losing hope. Mothers are cowering behind their grilled doors not sure whether their daughters or sons will be returning home from school or church or whether they will find them dead in bushes somewhere. Entire communities are living under unofficial curfews as the culture of fear spreads.
It is out of proportion, this pervasive murder rate in western Jamaica. This extreme violence seemed to have its roots in the lottery scam, which began in St James and has grown exponentially to affect other towns in the west and elsewhere in the island. The lottery scam is a well-organised evil scheme that has been gouging many elderly persons in the United States of their hard-earned cash. With American law enforcement on their tail, scammers are getting desperate, and they respond with violence. The international nature of the lottery scam demands that Jamaica seek all assistance to combat it.
So where should the Government start? Corruption in the police force is a good place to begin. There has to be a concerted effort by those in authority to reduce corruption. There is every belief that corruption pervades the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and this partly explains why the lottery scam continues to hold sway, as it is believed that police personnel are complicit in these activities. Therefore, there has to be intense monitoring and oversight to ensure that lawmen who fall out of line are effectively prosecuted in the courts.
Hopefully, a better-protected coastline will result in fewer guns getting into the hands of criminals. The Get the Guns Campaign, though accounting for 100 firearm seizures in January, has not substantively impacted access to illegal weapons. There is no doubt that more stringent gun laws could make Jamaicans safer.
This takes us to the matter of appointing a new commissioner of police. This process ought not be drawn out. A new police chief should be appointed in reasonable time so that he or she may assert leadership over the force by introducing a crime-reduction policing strategy, using new methods, and implementing the kind of management systems that will guarantee better results than have been delivered in the last few years.