Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Mark Wignall | There can be no crime plan

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2019 | 12:17 AM

It seems not to stretch us too far out on a limb to suggest that the Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government had not yet formulated an endgame to the various states of emergency (SOEs), but instead skilfully manipulated the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) into a corner and made it (the PNP) kill the SOEs as 2019 rolled around.

In doing that, the JLP government was given political breathing space while the opposition PNP would be electorally choked and stuck with the label of opposing a crime policy supported by 82 per cent of the voting age population.

If in the aftermath of the end of the SOEs, the murder rate increases (as expected), the governing JLP will be hoping that heading towards the next election next year (JLP’s habit of never running through a full term), that memory and social tension will be foremost in the minds of the voting public.

Now that the SOEs have been brought to an end, the most engaging term for the political moment is ‘crime plan’. What crime plan? One of the nearly two dozen since the early 1970s that have turned out to be nothing more than political chicken soup for a nation constantly on a murder spree?

Let us face it. Crime plans do not work in Jamaica. The recently ended SOEs brought higher-than-usual concentrations of the country’s security forces into areas with increasing murder rates and the proliferation of gun violence. An application of simple arithmetic will tell you that if the rates of murder are brought down in those communities, it will obviously bring down the national year-to-year murders. And it did.

Now, those elected to solve our pressing short-term problems and to bring hope to last us for the next two decades and beyond must get back to the basics of fixing the nation. To fix the nation is to allow our nation to find a murder rate that will not kill all the hope our young people have that this country has future viability.

At this moment, all that is available to the commissioner of police is short-term policing and longer-term sectoral plans based on the buildout from the short-term policing. But, of course, once the commissioner makes any sort of address to the nation, it will have to be embellished with political language.

A week or so ago, a young lady wanted me to buy her a ratchet knife so that she could stab her way to resolving a conflict she was having with a man. Two days ago, I saw her again and she suggested that since I refused to buy her the killing instrument, a vial of pepper spray would do.

“No! Mi nah buy it!” I said.

Fix the attitudes of that young lady and the nation is fixed. Jack is a deportee who smokes about 12 to 15 spliffs per day while he is washing cars. To fix this nation is to lessen the possibilities of creating more Jacks. He is not currently involved in criminality, but he is barely subsisting.

To fix this nation is to nab those in the legal profession who are cross-cutting during suits and conspiring with the biggest firms, a handful of politicians and some banks, to steal justice from those whose right is the fair delivery of justice.

The JLP has no crime plan. The JCF has no crime plan. Operations and governance across both entities are highly dependent on the unexpected which crops up tomorrow. The quest for equitable prosperity is noble but, prosperity is an endgame after much has been fixed.