Stephen Edwards | ZOSO naysayers fear its success
Jamaicans have seen many unsuccessful anti-crime initiatives in the past that have been largely characterised by the use of brute force and the wanton abuse of human rights. However, initial reports from residents of Mount Salem, St James, where the first zone of special operations (ZOSO) was declared, revealed that Jamaica's security forces are taking care to prevent human-rights abuses and are performing their duties in a professional manner.
This change is a breath of fresh air that is clearly linked to the additional training and preparation that was done before the operations began. This, by itself, is a tremendous success for which the security forces should be commended.
Of course, there is a small minority of naysayers who have tried to poke holes in every aspect of ZOSO, even before it started. First, there was criticism about the ZOSO bill being rushed, which was followed by calls to hurry the naming of the zones. There was idle talk that it won't solve Jamaica's crime problem, followed by suggestions that it is a critical part of the crime-fighting strategy.
Then there was criticism that not enough information was being given to the public, which was followed by shouts that too much information is being given to the public. The chaotic nature of the criticisms suggests that the few naysayers that exist are simply fearful that ZOSO will be successful.
Recent headlines are filled with news of positive things that are happening in Jamaica, which include:
1. More Jamaicans are now employed than any other time in history.
2. Jamaica recorded a budget surplus after many years of deficit.
3. Massive increases in PATH benefits for the poor and vulnerable.
4. Net international reserves (NIR) are at the highest they have ever been since 2002.
5. The Jamaican dollar is stable for the first time in decades.
6. JPS customers will see a two per cent reduction in their electricity bills, starting September.
7. Decreases in aggravated assault
(-15%), break-ins (-8%), larceny (-32%), rape (17%) and robbery
Now that the facts are on the table, it is clear that the country is moving in the right direction. This forms the basis of the reason why the naysayers are so fearful of the success of the ZOSOs. If the ZOSOs succeed in making a major impact on the murder rate, they will be left with little or no material to preach doom and gloom upon the nation with. How tormenting that must be for them!
Suggestions of complaints
It would be remiss of me to see any of my fellow citizens in such distress, as misguided as they may be, and not offer assistance. I, therefore, offer some suggestions of complaints that they can make once the country's murder rate plummets:
1. Too many children will be showing disregard for the Noise Abatement Act as they play throughout the night.
2. The Gun Court will have to close since it won't have enough cases to try.
3. The funeral home business will decline.
4. Land value in inner-city communities will skyrocket as people will be willing to live, work and play there.
5. Prices for goods will fall rapidly since businesses will pay less for security.
The ZOSO initiative is the best tool that the country has at its disposal to find and seize the illegal guns that are used in the majority of murders and shootings. It is important that all Jamaicans band together and support the ZOSO initiative so that Jamaica can unleash its true potential for prosperity.
- Stephen R.P. Edwards, president of G2K, the young professionals' affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party, is a civil engineer and former university lecturer. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.