Mon | Feb 19, 2018

George Davis | Solving crime - Israel may have the answer

Published:Tuesday | January 16, 2018 | 9:03 AM

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is set to host a summit on fixing crime and has insisted that the leadership of both the governing Jamaica Labour Party and Opposition People's National Party be in attendance. Further, the PSOJ is demanding that both sides sign whatever outcome documents are produced by the summit to legitimise their support for the agreed approach to arresting a situation which sees five Jamaicans murdered each day.

I wish the PSOJ every success with this move, and though I'm a soothsayer by rational means only, I can tell them that no new ideas will come from this gathering of minds. None of our political leaders or the parties that follow them have any new approach or fix for crime.

All that they believe can be done to neutralise the problem has already been spoken about ad nauseum and implemented in some form or the other. Locally, there are simply no new ideas left, and the PSOJ summit may only get the parties to agree on correction and detention measures for those suspected or found guilty of murder, illegal gun possession, or any of the various shooting-related charges.

Fitz Jackson is a thoroughly decent chap, and the sheer weight of the murder numbers has chiselled out a platform from which he can speak loudly as shadow minister of national security.

Fitz will be seen and heard much more as the year grows old, especially as the PNP sets its stall as the party of choice if Jamaicans want to see violent crime tamed. But the party will encounter a serious problem in the form of its leader, Dr Peter Phillips.

I strongly suspect he'll be more formidable at the next general election than many people anticipate, but the murder situation in the country is not a pier from which Dr Phillips can dock the PNP's election boat. You see, Jamaicans will be reminded that between November 2001 and September 2007 when Dr Phillips served as national security minister, more than 8,000 Jamaicans were murdered, most by the gun. And they will also be reminded that Dr Phillips' moral authority to criticise the Government about its failure to keep residents of Montego Bay and its environs safe are undermined by events that occurred when he was in charge of the country's security portfolio.

 

Paradox

 

Recall Dr Phillips' address to the nation on January 28, 2007, when he spoke of the shock and outrage prompted by criminality while noting that "the viciousness of the most recent homicides in Montego Bay confirms the ruthlessness of the criminals we are up against".

So on the electioneering front, the JLP seems to have the PNP well held on the crime issue.

But what about their accountability to the Jamaican people in fulfilment of the promise given by Andrew Holness in Hanover in 2015 that people will be safe enough to sleep with windows and doors open under a JLP government?

The main problem plaguing this JLP Government, and for that matter, previous administrations is intelligence. Witnesses are scared, and there seem to be still too many dishonest law enforcers on the payroll of criminals.

So what can the Holness administration do? They can look to Israel to solve this problem.

Israel has the most surveillance cameras per capita and is a reference point for countries struggling to get good intelligence in the fight against violent crime. The Israelis have a system called Mabat 2000, which has worked wonders in Jerusalem.

The system packs more than 300 cameras into a dense space and is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by highly trained officers.

These officers are in a room with touch screens all around them, affording them the ability to see even the nose hairs of people as it monitors movement of all traffic at ground and aerial level. The officers dispatch team members to crime scenes, and like the 2002 film Minority Report, boasts the ability to help prevent crime, based on the quality of surveillance.

Mabat 2000 allows the officers to do freeze-frame and screen grabs of licence plates and of course facial features. The recent Jerusalem stunt puts Jamaica in Israel's good books. Let's capitalise by asking for their assistance with intelligence gathering.

Selah.

- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.