Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Editorial | Put technology into crime-fighting

Published:Saturday | April 27, 2019 | 12:16 AM

Every day there are incidents which remind us of how dangerous it is to live in parts of Jamaica these days. Kidnappings and murders help to create mayhem in the society. The regularity with which these horrific crimes are happening in urban and rural areas has naturally turned the spotlight on the police – particularly their intelligence-gathering capabilities, their mobility and their application of technology.

Even though crime has become so commonplace that outrage has become muted, we must recall two recent cases. An eight-year-old, in traversing a lonely path, disappeared at mid-afternoon on her way home from school. Her body was found discarded among debris five days later in the Sterling Castle community where she lived.

Then a man went missing mid-afternoon on Good Friday after he left Mandeville en route to Kingston, and after a security alert, his car was located in the bushes of Clarendon. There was, however, no sign of the man. Six days later, his decomposing body was found a mere 300 metres from where his car was originally spotted.

These two incidents happening within a week or so of each other speak volumes about how the police carry out their work. We acknowledge that the police need resources to be effective and efficient in their jobs. We also acknowledge that the job of policing this county gets harder every day because the country seems to be overrun by criminals.

The excuse about lack of funds to equip the police is unacceptable. The Government always finds money to do the things it wants to do.

Let’s think for a moment about the resources the police could have used to assist them in unravelling these two crimes mentioned above. Would drone technology have given the police a better ability to fully comb both crime scenes? The value of eyes from above cannot be underestimated. Many security forces which face rising crime are employing drone technology to help them patrol areas which are difficult to access. The new generation of technology, which includes drones, provides the police with vital information about crimes as they unfold and helps them to better repel criminals and protect members of the public.

IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY

And what about the use of search dogs? The Jamaica Constabulary Force is known to have sniffer dogs for detecting narcotics, although we rarely see them on duty these days. Police forces all over the world use dogs to help them apprehend criminals.

We are aware that many of the police stations, especially in rural areas, are not equipped with motor vehicles. We also know that there are dozens of motorcycles which have been abandoned at police stations in Westmoreland, for example, and cannot understand why there is no attempt to use these motorcycles to help in fighting crime.

A comprehensive approach to crime-fighting demands that we use every available resource to get the desired results. From body cameras to robotics and GPS, technology for detecting crime is improving every day. The cost of acquiring this technology is also getting cheaper, and the mechanisms are smaller and more portable.

Law-abiding Jamaicans and the most vulnerable people who are targets of criminals want to see the Government put more resources into crime-fighting and the criminal justice system. The people have a big stake in seeing that the appropriate technology is applied to policing. The consequences for the society will be dire if this investment is not made.