Tue | Feb 20, 2018

Jaevion Nelson | Take the lead on crime, Government

Published:Saturday | January 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Soldiers speak to a motorist during an early-morning operation in Rose Heights, Montego Bay, Thursday. The parish of St James has been placed under a state of public emergency.

There has been quite a bit of panic since the start of the year. At the end of the first week, about 42 murders - an average of six per day - were reported. One would think that this would impress upon us the urgency with which we must move to address this matter.

Sadly, we are seemingly resigned in our lack of focus, inaction and insatiable desire to carelessly throw blame around rather than address the pervasiveness of crime and violence despite the heightened insecurity across the nation. We are busy castigating the police and citizens for not doing their jobs and being more responsible, while our security is being taken for granted.

The State has a major role to play to ensure that there is a reduction in crime and violence. Rather than be lazy and depend on citizens to lead, it should do so itself. I have a feeling that we'd have better results if the State took the lead and didn't depend solely on heavy policing.

Can you imagine the kind of improvement we might have one year if the Government budgets less for guns, ammunition and vehicles for the police and put that to critical areas that desperately need strengthening? What if we invested more in the investigative arm of the police force and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (which is terribly under-resourced) and the justice system (accelerate the justice reform project; it's about a decade now since the report was published)?

 

INCREASING TRUST

 

Imagine if we put resources towards protecting the police and their families and those who volunteer information to the police to help bring perpetrators to justice? What about putting an additional $50 million to improving trust and cooperation between the police and the citizens in five parishes with the highest incidents of crime and violence?

If we want better for our country, we have to put more blame on the Government and demand that it does more. When the Government begins to lead and take greater responsibility, we will see the change that we desire.

We can all sit and chastise people from the comfort of our screens for the decisions that they make, but we will never truly understand their plight. The people who live in communities known for crime and violence are well aware of their actions. They know why they take the money and the guns. They know why they support their friends, family and loved ones who might be involved in scamming and other crimes. They know why someone was murdered and who did it.

They are acutely aware of the fact that they should tell the police what they know, but they also know that there may be repercussions for their actions

Until we stop treating people with disdain for the decisions they make rather than attempt to understand their standpoint will we be able to address crime and violence.

Jaevion Nelson is a human-rights, and economic and social-justice advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com, or tweet @jaevionn.