Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Not one more dollar

Published:Tuesday | June 27, 2017 | 6:00 AM
FILE A passer-by looks at a police patrol car that crashed into a wall along Slipe Road in Kingston on June 21. Columnist Patria-Kaye Aarons is no fan of throwing more money at the national security ministry to fight crime, as there are few guarantees that extra allocations won't be wasted.

Between mosquitoes and thieves, despite the campaign promise of the prime minister, I still can't sleep with my windows open.

As the murder crisis intensifies, I look to the leadership of the country for a plan. A real plan. Not just tough-talking "We're gonna get you" threats. An actual plan that will have criminals captured and convicted.

One recent suggestion from the Government has me hopping mad. Mr Holness, in an interview, suggested that he may increase the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of National Security by 20-30 per cent. That increase would be funded by taking money from other ministries, perhaps like Education or Health or Tourism or Agriculture.

I say, not a box cover!

Perhaps the ministry does need more money, but if and when they get it, how will it be put to use? I want to see the back of crime as much as any other well-meaning Jamaican, but I would strongly object to the Ministry of National Security getting money carte blanche. Before an additional dollar is allocated, Minister Montague needs to clearly articulate, not only how that money will be used, but also what effect on crime Jamaicans should expect, and when.

We have a default mentality of throwing money at our problems. Thinking that more money will somehow make everything better. It never will, not without a solid plan. It's as if I got a big gaping wound on my arm and I had the option of buying either a Band-Aid or surgical needle and thread. One clearly will be far less effective than the other.

If that money is going to hire consultants, or do another study or buy new cars, I'll lose my mind.

 

IF WE ARE SERIOUS

 

If we are serious about crime reduction, we would clean up the police force. Polygraph every member, top to bottom, and if you fail, you're out! And not just out, out and under investigation. I'd approve a Budget bump for that.

If we are serious about crime reduction, we would spend more on ballistics, DNA and forensic technologies to process crime scenes faster and with more accuracy - all with a view to finding the guilty parties.

If we are serious about crime reduction, we would invest in placing more cameras in high-traffic areas and in volatile communities.

If we are serious about crime reduction, we would rid the stations of those blooming big books. I question the accuracy of the reported crime statistics. If the tally process entails counting entries logged in station diaries islandwide, there must be errors. Get computers. How can you manage something you can't accurately count?

If we are serious about crime reduction, we'd fix 119. The primary channel for reporting crime must work. I can't accept the argument that pranksters are preventing legitimate calls from being answered. If so, the moment you very publicly prosecute two prank callers, would-be violators will get the message.

If we are serious about crime reduction, we would buy some ankle bracelets to track people out on bail for serious crimes. When 134 people, while on bail for murder, can be charged for committing new murders, our tracking system needs an urgent fix (as well as our laws).

If we are serious about crime reduction, we'd allocate funds to plant moles in gangs. Take a few promising new recruits and have them enrol. Go through the motions and infiltrate the institutions credited with the majority of Jamaica's crimes. Learn from the inside. (Wait, maybe this is happening and I just don't know.)

If we are serious about crime reduction, we'd give more money to the Ministry of Justice instead of the Ministry of National Security. Pay lawyers and other legal specialists to gang up on the very outdated laws to update them, so when criminals face the court, you have the teeth to prosecute properly. Pay judges to clear up the everlastingly long case log so criminals aren't free to reoffend and families can finally feel as if they get justice.

I'm no minister of national security, but some things seem like a no-brainer. In this epic battle between criminals and the rest of us, criminals are winning, and until we get serious about fighting back with more than forceful words, our windows will remain tightly closed.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.